Bill to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency still progressing through the House

“The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on Dec. 31, 2018.” This one sentence, proposed law House Resolution 861, is probably the shortest and most direct ever proposed in U.S. history. It was introduced Feb. 3, by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-FL, and is presently working its way through four committees: Agriculture; Energy and Commerce; Transportation and Infrastructure and Science, Space and Technology. If passed, it will save taxpayers over $8 billion a year and send over 15,000 employees looking for new jobs.

Gaetz wrote defending his bill, “Our small businesses cannot afford to cover the costs associated with compliance, too often leading to closed doors and unemployed Americans. It is time to take back our legislative power from the EPA and abolish it permanently.”

But those who oppose the bill, like a hornet swarming out of a disturbed hornet’s nest, are those who benefit from the agency, the 15,000 people who with its passage will soon to be looking for new jobs, profiting corporations, Hollywood activists and big government advocates both Democrat and Republican – essentially the biggest donors in elections. A quick look on the internet shows the hornets coming with every gun in the arsenal, even they believe in gun rights as long as they have all the guns, and they do, even the establishment media and socialized universities. Without huge public support, career politicians will fold on this one.

Gaetz wrote, “States and local communities are best positioned to responsibly regulate the environmental assets within their jurisdictions.”

He is right, but he has a stronger argument. The Constitution does not list the environment as a federal function of government, according to Article I, Section 8. By not being listed, it automatically remains a state, county and city prerogative, as per Amendment 10. If environmentalists want such power, they must use the Fifth Amendment, which requires any new power to get three-fourths of the state conventions to move the power from the states to the federal government so that it can be listed with the other federal powers.

Power grabbers of both major political parties do not like these parts of the Constitution because they rightfully do not allow them to do anything they wish. Moreover, the EPA was never enacted by Congress as required in Article I, Section 1, which said, “All legislative power herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,” no exceptions. It was nothing more than an executive order penned by former Republican President Richard Nixon, Dec. 2, 1970.

Years ago in visiting with a local contractor I learned that his biggest obstacle in providing reasonably priced middleclass housing for the community was the EPA. He told me that in a $300,000 home approximately one-third of that cost was fulfilling the myriad of rules that were mandated by this organization. He took time to share some of those rules with me. They were so unreasonable, and without them I could have saved $100,000 on a new home.  Without his willingness to go through these hoops, there would be few single-family homes older than the sixties in this modest oil-town community.

He was a modest, unassuming good man, not the corporate polluter, toxic dumping and public land rapist that the extreme environmentalists portray developers. After five years of hearings battling the EPA over a single endangered flower that had popped up on his property next to a public park, he finally received permission to build.

Once, construction workers attempting to update an elementary school found in a distant part of the schoolyard a kit fox den. All work stopped for at least six months, while school authorities worked through the web of EPA rules before they could proceed. Costs mushroomed and human needs, even for children, were immediately placed on hold for an animal that locals knew was not really endangered. I used to tell my students that if they wanted an eye-opening experience just drive through the alleys at night; they would see a kit fox before they saw a common cat. The problem ended when those trying to get the school functioning again were allowed to purchase a kill permit.

Yes, a kill permit, and the animal, presumably protected because it was on an endangered list, was killed anyway. To obtain a kill permit, the property owner is required to purchase land elsewhere, sometimes three times as large, next to a reserve and donate that property to the reserve. There is no attempt made to capture the offending animal or transplant the unwanted flower to another place. That would be too practical and reasonable for the government.

What I have shared is common knowledge to 90 percent of those over 30 and not associated with a college or university. Indeed, I have never met a defender of the EPA outside the latter category. Colleges are too often havens for teachers teaching, and students learning that only the federal government can or will protect the environment and that states, counties or cities are too influenced by corporations and developers to do the job. The opposite is true. States have far more incentive in protecting their backyard than do unelected bureaucrats living 2,000 miles away who are not personally impacted by the rules they impose on others. The Constitution automatically protects us from these people if we will let it. Does your congressman support H.R. 861?

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and to applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. Permission granted to publish. To read more of his weekly articles, visit

2 Responses to "Bill to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency still progressing through the House"

  1. Josh   November 6, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I sure would like to see you back up that unsubstantiated, second-hand claim about 1/3 the cost of a new home.

    Would it really make sense to shift responsibility for the clean water act and other environmental laws to the states? It’s wishful thinking that this wouldn’t be a huge unfunded mandate even if you carve up EPA’s budget into block grants. Each state would have to build up its own bureaucracy and reinvent all kinds of wheels. The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act already allow states the option to lead implementation. Some states choose not to, but this plan evidently would impose it on them anyway.

    By the way, do you know that EPA’s entire budget in 2016 was just 0.74% of the federal government’s discretionary spending and 0.23% of all federal spending?

    Another likely outcome of eliminating EPA would be different environmental standards in each state. This would be a burden on businesses that work in multiple states. Businesses like predictability and certainty. Shifting responsibility to the states would be throwing the whole deck of cards up in the air with respect to standards and compliance. Can you imagine the tidal wave of lawsuits from both businesses and environmentalists (and maybe municipalities or neighboring states too) as each state would have to issue new regulations to implement each of those federal laws? And if each state can set it’s own standards, you can bet on a “race to the bottom” as the states compete to have the least stringent (i.e., least effective) standards to attract businesses.

    Get real. H.R. 861 would be a colossal mistake that would lead to years of chaos and conflict in every state. It would create far more problems than it would fix. It would neither save money nor improve public health and environmental quality.

  2. Tim   November 12, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    So, Josh, The fact that the EPA is unconstitutional does not bother you? Pease is correct, the EPA needs to be abolished. It is completely out of control and out of touch with local issues.


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