Under both the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, the EPA has the authority to “disapprove” a state’s strategy to meet national environmental standards. A regulatory disapproval is no small matter as state officials spend countless hours and taxpayer resources crafting plans to comply with a newly finalized EPA regulation. When the EPA issues a regulatory disapproval, the agency effectively throws all of this work out the window.
Since President Obama took office, the number of regulatory disapprovals has skyrocketed. Previously, the EPA issued 44 disapprovals during President Clinton’s second term, 42 during President George W. Bush’s first term and 12 during Bush’s second term. But during President Obama’s first term, the EPA issued an unprecedented 95 disapprovals — more than a 190 percent increase from the average number of disapprovals during the previous three four-year presidential terms.
Even more alarming is the precipitous increase in the number of EPA takeovers of state regulatory programs. “Federal implementation plans,” or FIPs, are the EPA’s most aggressive action, as a FIP entails the complete usurpation of a state’s regulatory authority. From 1997 through 2009, the EPA imposed only two FIPs. But since Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, the EPA has imposed 19 FIPs, representing a 2,750 percent increase in the number of FIPs from the average number of FIPs rate during the previous three four-year presidential terms.
Both the data and the chart comes from a report I recently wrote for the American Legislative Exchange Council, titled “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assault on State Sovereignty.”