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EPA Out of Control: Flashpoint Florida

on . Posted in Free Market Flashpoints

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is out of control. Whether it's sending millions of taxpayer dollars overseas to export its climate change agenda or prosecuting a war on prosperity here at home, the EPA juggernaut is now driven more by ideological extremism than by sound science.

Examples are easy to find. Look no farther than Florida, a pivotal battleground in the race for the White House, to find one of EPA's latest billion-dollar-boondoggles. Thanks to a particularly poisonous special interest lawsuit, the EPA is on the brink of forcing draconian new water regulations on the Sunshine State. These regulations are not being imposed by our elected officials or even by sound scientific consensus. Instead, they are the result of litigation, filed by a special interest group called EarthJustice. If put into effect, economists estimate that the cost of complying with this regulation could soar into the billions.

It's not based on science–it's based on politics. Unfortunately, if they get their way, EPA regulators will apply the same "nutrient" standards to drainage canals that would be applied to Florida's most pristine bodies of water, casting aside years of scientific research.

Florida is the guinea pig. Although Florida has long been a leader in improving water quality, this seemingly arbitrary regulation affects only Florida — for now. Florida is being treated as a guinea pig for this nonsensical regulation, and could even become financially responsible for the nutrient content of rivers that flow into Florida from neighboring states that do not have to meet the same standards. But if EPA isn't stopped in the Sunshine State, its baseless "Water Tax" model could quickly move to other parts of the country.

It's not about the water. In fact, for years, Florida has been a national leader in improving water quality. Local taxpayers have spent tens of millions of dollars on the scientific research and improvement of water. Ironically — and unfortunately — it has been Florida's research which seems to have made it the target of this aggressive new regulation.

Follow the money. Groups like EarthJustice thrive on litigation — it's the centerpiece of their "business model." Typically, the bigger the lawsuits and the greater the regulation, the quicker they can generate new funding for their next anti-free market project. Florida has been singled out for this litigation because efforts to improve its water quality have produced an extensive scientific database. Tragically, the fact that Florida has been targeted for litigation may discourage other states from undertaking extensive scientific research of their own for fear of being targeted themselves.

It's a heavy-handed, one-size-fits-all approach. Like many states, Florida is home to a variety of diverse ecosystems that require a carefully-constructed, thoughtful and scientifically-sound approach to water quality. Unfortunately, the EPA's "Water Tax" approach is unrealistic, unscientific and unimaginably costly for Florida taxpayers, farmers and business, who will bear the enormous expense.

A study by the University of Florida and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services concludes that these regulations would directly cost Florida's agricultural community roughly $1 billion each year, with additional indirect costs also exceeding $1 billion. The study goes on to indicate that implementation of these special interest-driven regulations could put more than 14,000 agricultural workers out of a job. You can read the complete study by clicking here. You can also read the the report by Florida's Department of Environmental Protection, which puts the cost between $6 and $12 billion, by clicking here.

The bottom line is that these regulations were not drafted by scientists; they were concocted by special interest lawyers who stand to benefit from the implementation of this unworkable, expensive and ridiculous new form of regulation.

Independent studies reveal soaring costs. Depending on how strictly EPA decides to enforce these standards, the costs to Florida's farmers, businesses and consumers would range between $1 billion and $8 billion annually, says an independent economic study. In some cases, compliance with these scientifically questionable regulations is not only absurdly expensive, it's impossible.

Still need more information about this issue? Click here to read Congressman Tom Rooney's guest column in the TC Palm or take a moment to check out Senator Bill Nelson's letter to the EPA by clicking here.

Is heavy-handed environmentalism hurting the economy in your state? Let us know by sending an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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The Energy for An Economic Comeback

on . Posted in Free Market Flashpoints

Optimism is in our national DNA. That makes the fact that 64 percent of Americans (Rasmussen) believe our country is headed in the wrong direction a deeply troubling testament to the depth of our nation's economic hardship. Without a doubt, many in Washington — either through design or neglect — seem resigned to writing our national epitaph rather than restoring the foundations of economic promise.

But they're wrong. The case for our economic comeback already has been written. The rapid development of new technologies and techniques for the cultivation and use of abundant domestic energy sources once again promises to power a new American century. But our nation's economic comeback depends on access to affordable energy.

Energy — like anything else — is more affordable when it is more abundant. Time and again, extreme environmental interests have attempted to micromanage the market, resulting in dangerous boondoggles like Cap and Trade and Solyndra. We can't fix our energy problems by inventing false markets like Cap and Trade or by subsidizing renewables while penalizing traditional, domestic energy.

We don't need false markets; we need free markets. The right strategy is to develop more domestic energy, reduce government red tape and promote greater affordability for consumers. Such a strategy incorporates a more commonsense, market-driven approach. We don't need to shortchange ratepayers or drive up the price of electricity and fuel by foisting impossible renewable energy standards on businesses and then demanding that consumers choose between "expensive" on one hand and "unworkable" on the other.

Beware environmentalists bearing gifts. In Florida, former Governor Charlie Crist's energy program was based on inventing fictitious markets and establishing utterly unattainable standards for renewable energy. Florida wasn't alone; the model had been replicated in states across the country, pushed behind-the-scenes by environmental interest groups. Despite its focus on developing alternative energy sources, Crist's plan was functionally an "all eggs in one basket" approach to energy policy because it attempted to disrupt the marketplace and cheat consumers out of their right to make decisions. Worse still, Florida's consumers ended up paying the price for government's misguided attempts to micromanage their economic decisions.

Pursuing diverse and affordable sources – both above ground and below – will mean reliable energy options for all Americans. That's an "all of the above" energy strategy. And that's the right formula for an economic comeback.

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The “Sue-and-Settle” Formula

on . Posted in Free Market Flashpoints

Taxpayers are already stretched thin – but anti-free market forces don't care. Across the country, radical environmental interests are executing well-funded but deeply misguided legal efforts aimed at halting projects that create jobs. But that's not the worst part.

They're making you pay for it. Environmental interests don't mind filing lawsuit after lawsuit to block domestic energy production, resource cultivation and economic development – and they don't mind making you pay for it. Despite the fact that America's largest environmental organizations are among the richest NGOs in the country, they are happy to ask America's deeply-indebted taxpayers to send millions their way for "attorney's fees."

It gets worse – a lot worse. Too often, these legal settlements end up looking like a sweetheart deal for environmental interests. It works like this: Environmental extremists sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA gleefully settles the suit. Before you know it, federal judges – rather than local communities – are setting policy. Soon after, environmental interests are billing taxpayers for their legal fees. It's one heck of a pay day for these so-called "green warriors."

It happens all the time. For example, recent "Endangered Species Act" settlements will cost American taxpayers over $200 million in paperwork. You read that right. Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Justice Department announced a settlement agreement in which taxpayers will pay $206,098,920 to process petitions from environmental groups attempting to classify various plants, bugs and worms on the Endangered Species List. And of course, environmental attorneys will be paid for their part in fleecing taxpayers. You can read more about this from attorney Karen Budd-Falen, by clicking here.

The bottom line: This "Sue-and-Settle" formula is a way of setting policy from Washington while enriching well-heeled environmental interests. It's got to stop. Our nation's taxpayers are deeply in debt and our economy remains deeply troubled. The last thing we need to do is pay environmental lawyers to shut down American jobs.

If you know about a "Sue-and-Settle" situation that you'd like to report, let us know by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Standing up for the Free Market is what we do.

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Free Market Flashpoints

on . Posted in Free Market Flashpoints

Anti-free market forces are running campaigns of unchecked misinformation to influence government decisions and public opinion. Worse still, they're masking their radical ideology behind environmental rhetoric. As our nation's economy continues to struggle, these extremists are growing bolder and our cause is growing more urgent.

Their targets include some of America's oldest and most essential businesses. From farmers and energy entrepreneurs to miners and builders, environmental extremists are prosecuting a relentless legal and regulatory campaign against everything from stable energy sources to stable food supplies.

Even when they lose, they cost jobs, cause delays and sow uncertainty. Anti-free market forces often raise major obstacles to worthwhile projects. That's because their agenda isn't sound economic or environmental policy — their agenda is halting economic growth of any kind, anywhere. Unfortunately, even when they lose in court, they cause costly delays and greater economic uncertainty. For these fringe groups, the cost to delay and disrupt such projects is minimal, and they know that the cost, delays and uncertainty they create can often kill major projects and any economic benefits they may bring. The damage to America's business climate can be extraordinary.

Worse still, they're sending you the bill. The cost for so-called "environmental" interests to wage such court battles is often negligible to them, since the bill is regularly picked up by taxpayers. That's right. Even when they lose in federal court, environmental groups are often compensated for attorneys fees — by taxpayers.

We're here to take them on. Too often, anti-free market agendas are masked as "environmental" causes. However, responsible, scientifically-sound environmentalism has been sidelined by many of these groups. Free Market America monitors "Free Market Flashpoints." We're not afraid to get involved on behalf of local communities or business groups that are besieged by anti-free market forces. We make our case to the policymakers, the press, and most importantly, directly to the people.

We want to hear from you. Where is environmental extremism undermining economic freedom? Let us know by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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