Regulation reality Hageman counts the cost of federal rules
Casper – Since President Obama took office, employment at federal agencies has climbed 13 percent, and Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman says there’s a direct relationship between that rate and the regulations that are coming out of Washington, D.C.
“We have got to do something to stop the enormous expansion of federal employment in Washington, D.C.,” Hageman told attendees of the Wyoming Women in Ag Symposium in Casper on Nov. 16. “During the same time that federal employment was growing, jobs in the private sector shrank by 5.6 percent.”
In 2011 there have been 70,320 pages of regulations published in the Federal Register, and almost 20,000 of those have been added in the last two months alone, she said.
“The cost estimate for the 427 proposed or enacted regulations for 2011 is $69.1 billion, and the administration announced in August that it’s considering seven new regulations that will each cost the economy more than $1 billion per year,” explained Hageman. “At a time when our country was in a crisis with the debt limit, we were adopting these types of regulations.”
Hageman said the Obama administration has proposed 229 new rules and has finalized 379 rules so far, with an estimated cost of $9.5 billion.
“As you all know, we’re broke,” she said. “The 110th Congress, from January 2007 to January 2009, increased our debt by $1.957 trillion. The 111th Congress, from January 2009 to January 2011, added an additional $3.22 trillion to the overall debt. This is more than the first 100 Congresses combined, and almost $10,500 in new debt per person in the United States.”
Hageman said the rules coming from federal agencies are a form of regulation without representation.
“Once a bill is passed, it goes to the agencies in the Executive Branch. In 2009 Congress passed 125 laws, and from those there were over 3,500 regulations adopted by the federal agencies,” she explained.
While the Endangered Species Act is roughly 18 pages long, Hageman said the implementing regulations are over 1,000 pages. The National Environmental Policy Act is not an overly long statute, but its implementing regulations are over 1,000 pages long.
Speaking of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Army Corps of Engineers and “navigable” waters of the United States, Hageman said, “What I see is that the way these regulations are adopted and are being enforced is these agencies are not carrying out the statutory provisions they’re supposed to interpret. They’re actually writing their own laws, but you don’t know who they are or where they are, and there is never any accountability for what they do.”
“We recently had created by this President an Office of the Regulator of Regulators. There are times I think I’m going insane,” said Hageman. “In 1992 the regulatory burden was $400 billion. As of 2008, our regulatory costs increased to $1.75 trillion. The Small Business Administration reports that in 2005 the regulatory cost associated with employing one person was $7,647. In 2008 that had increased to $10,500, and then we have people in D.C. who ask this question: why aren’t you creating jobs?”
She said the EPA’s regulation of carbon will destroy 1.4 million jobs and cost the economy up to $141 billion by 2014.
“That’s two years away, and 200,000 American manufacturers could lose their jobs. From 2015 to 2026, the annual impact of carbon regulation would be more than 500,000 jobs, and by 2029 the total economic cost will be over $7 trillion, and there will be no significant impact on reducing global greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Hageman.
Hageman said the costs of the new regulations are not just monetary. As an example she gave the West’s pine beetle outbreak, which began with a blowdown of 14,000 acres in Colorado’s Routt National Forest in 1997. She said the 2001 Roadless Rule, enacted by President Clinton on his way out of office, made the pine beetle epidemic possible.
“At the time it was adopted, the federal government knew what it would do, and what the impact would be,” she said. “The blowdown was partly in a roadless area and partly in a wilderness area, and everyone who was associated with it knew we’d have a terrible pine beetle outbreak, because the Forest Service would not allow anyone to go in there and harvest those trees. Now when you go to a national forest and see a sea of red, the federal government is who did that to us – the federal government has destroyed our national forests.”
“The fact is that a balanced approach is absolutely critical,” said Hageman of Washington, D.C. “When the government directs its resources to doing things it should not be doing, it becomes incapable of doing the things it should. I’m not anti-government, or even anti-federal government – I’m anti-bad government. I am anti a non-responsive government – a government that imposes these kinds of regulatory costs and does it completely as if there are no consequences of their decisions. You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of reality, and we’re the ones who have to live with the consequences of their decisions.”
“We have a federal government that really is waging war on the western United States, and I wish I knew why, because then perhaps we could find more effective ways of fighting it,” stated Hageman. “We need to educate people, and people need to start participating in what’s going on and holding agencies accountable. Knowledge and participation are the key, and U.S. citizens must become more active in the regulatory process and make it clear to the agencies that they’re watching.”
“What’s happening in D.C. right now, with the enormous debt and discussions that go nowhere, has only happened in the last 40 years. Our country has worked well for a long time, and now there are fundamental changes in D.C. and changes in the way our Senators and Representatives look at their jobs and responsibilities, and I believe we can pull this back and stop some of this,” she continued.
Hageman said she thinks one of the first steps is to have sunsets on most of the federal agencies, and that the EPA should have to justify its budget every year.
“We shouldn’t go years and years without the agencies disclosing the money they have and how they spend it,” she noted.
“Wyoming is a very powerful state, and for reasons a lot of people don’t exploit or understand. We are the Saudi Arabia of the United States, and the economic driver of this country, because we are the number one coal producer and we’re third in producing natural gas,” said Hageman. “We have the ability to force changes in Washington, D.C. that a lot of states don’t. We need to start exercising that reality of power, and demand that, in exchange for our resources, there will be some changes in D.C., and I think we can do it.”
Christy Martinez is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.