EPA: The Intersection of Invasive and Inefficient | Citizens Against Government Waste

EPA: The Intersection of Invasive and Inefficient

The WasteWatcher

There is no shortage of government agencies that fritter away hard-earned tax dollars by imposing hostile rules and regulations on businesses and individuals.  But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has practically cornered the market on invasiveness and inefficiency.

A March 16, 2015 EPA Inspector General (IG) report found that $2.95 million of sampled EPA research equipment went unused for two to 14 years in the Office of Research and Development (ORD).  The IG reviewed “capital equipment,” defined as a piece that costs more than $75,000, at three of ORD’s 14 research facilities nationwide.

The IG “determined the date the equipment was last utilized,” and found that 30 of the 99 pieces of capital equipment reviewed, or 30 percent, hadn’t been utilized for between two and 14 years.  The report provided a harsh assessment of the agency’s cost-controls, concluding, “The EPA does not manage its scientific equipment as a business unit or enterprise.  ORD managers and staff are not aware of federal property management requirements.”  This latest review followed previous reports from the IG, the Government Accountability Office, and the National Academy of Sciences on unused EPA equipment since 2011.

As the EPA allows 30 percent of ORD research equipment to languish, the agency has no problem “researching,” or snooping, on the showering habits of millions of Americans under the guise of measuring water usage.  The EPA’s $15,000 grant to the University of Tulsa, under the People, Prosperity and the Planet student design competition for sustainability, “aims to develop a novel low cost wireless device for monitoring water use from hotel guest room showers.  This device will be designed to fit most new and existing hotel shower fixtures and will wirelessly transmit hotel guest water usage data to a central hotel accounting system.”  The monitoring device will be coupled with a smartphone app that would allow the user to access hotel water usage at anytime, anywhere.

Beyond monitoring guests’ shower use, the EPA is peeping around other aspects of hotel hygiene and cleanliness.  The agency’s WaterSense Challenge program asks hotels to track “water use and upgrade their restrooms with low-flow toilets and showerheads” and “encourages linen and towel reuse programs.”

In response to the claim that the agency is infringing on Americans’ personal hygiene habits, EPA Deputy Press Secretary Laura Allen said, “EPA is not monitoring how much time hotel guests spend in the shower.”  And even as the EPA, rather than the private sector, is spending money on this project, Allen assured everyone that, “The marketplace, not EPA, will decide if there is a demand for this type of technology.”

These infringements are not a new phenomenon.  The EPA proposed a rule in March, 2014 that would allow the agency to encroach on private property so long as there is any body of water, from a pond to standard runoff.  Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) warned that “this rule could allow the EPA to regulate virtually every body of water in the United States.”

The EPA’s thirst for regulatory encroachments has been quenched with regularity during the Obama administration.  Since 2009, the EPA has instituted 3,120 new regulations totaling 27,854 pages in the Federal Register.  To feed this ever-growing appetite for intrusiveness and interference, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asked Congress for a $452 million increase in the EPA’s budget for fiscal year 2016 to more than $8.5 billion.  McCarthy defended the request by claiming the EPA was “building a solid path forward for sustainable economic growth.”

Administrator McCarthy was named CAGW’s March Porker of the Month for her agency’s unremitting and invasive use of taxpayer dollars to intrude on the personal habits of Americans. 

The EPA has quickly risen through the ranks of invasive and over-reaching federal agencies.  Without action by Congress to stem the tide, the agency’s fiscal and regulatory overreach will continue unabated.

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