While it’s tempting to dismiss President Joe Biden’s power with a divided Congress, his political appointees are wreaking havoc behind the scenes.
None are more dangerous than the environmentalists waging war on American industry. With the election looming, they’re racing to cement sweeping regulatory changes that will eliminate jobs, raise prices, and jeopardize our national security. [emphasis, links added]
Congress is standing up for common sense with legislation that can curb these threats, starting with a little-known program within the Environmental Protection Agency called the Integrated Risk Information System, or IRIS.
Created out of thin air in 1985 without Congressional authorization, the EPA is weaponizing the program to exaggerate the health risks of everyday chemicals and help political agencies justify innovation-killing restrictions.
Just look at what’s happening with formaldehyde, a naturally occurring substance that is produced by trees, fires, and our bodies.
Americans depend on this chemical for medical devices, agricultural products, building materials, and automobiles. Yet IRIS is trying to set an air concentration limit below what is produced naturally — or what can even be detected.
To understand how silly this is, think about driving laws. We know lower speeds and seatbelts can reduce the risk of harm from accidents, so we enforce reasonable speed limits and seatbelt laws.
IRIS would say you shouldn’t drive your car at all because of the danger of an accident. It’s an extreme measure that would grind economic activity to a halt. Yet this is exactly what’s threatening America’s most important chemical manufacturers.
If IRIS’s impossible standard for formaldehyde becomes the basis for new regulations, companies that produce formaldehyde could be subject to sweeping litigation.
Even more absurd, IRIS recommends a level of ethylene oxide — another chemical that is present in the environment and used to sterilize hospital equipment and manufacture semiconductors — that is thousands of times lower than what is normally produced in our bodies.
Another 97,000 jobs and $41 billion in payroll costs hang in the balance.
Assessments are underway or planned for other important chemicals including uranium, vanadium, naphthalene, and hexavalent chromium, each with substantial implications for jobs and economic prosperity.
In each of these cases, the EPA is effectively working to eliminate U.S. manufacturing and send production of these chemicals overseas to countries with more lax environmental standards.
It wouldn’t be the first time regulations intended to save the environment have the opposite effect — but it could be the most destructive.
This program represents one of the administrative state’s most ambitious power grabs to date, and it must be stopped. Industry groups have taken similar fights to the courts and won.
The Court rejected EPA climate regulations that claimed “unheralded power representing a transformative expansion of its regulatory authority in the vague language of a … rarely used” provision of law.
IRIS has never received congressional authorization, yet it typically receives between 20 and 40 million dollars of federal funding each year and is being inappropriately used to create de facto bans on fundamental chemicals.
Diverse federal agencies have questioned IRIS’s methodology, too — the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense, and the Small Business Administration.
Even the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office has called for greater transparency in its work and routinely flags IRIS assessments for mismanagement, waste, and even fraud.
In November, I introduced an amendment to prohibit the EPA from developing, issuing, or using IRIS assessments.
The amendment passed the House as part of H.R. 4821, a broader funding mechanism for the Department of the Interior and other agencies.
It was the first time Congress had ever held an up-or-down vote on the IRIS program, and it represents progress in reining in the unauthorized power wielded by this agency.
This month, along with Louisiana Republican Senator John Kennedy, I introduced the No Industrial Restrictions In Secret Act (No IRIS Act) to prevent EPA from using these unscientific chemical assessments as the basis for job-killing regulations.
Political appointees can read the polls showing the incumbent trailing. They know the clock is ticking on their time in power. It’s time to put the brakes on these runaway agencies.
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