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Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry Hardcover – October 18, 2011
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Now the topic has several perspectives that add to a target which is clear from the very cover: the destruction (slowly and undetectable) of the American industry has a cause, and this cause has several branches very well complemented, and based on a legal and so dense a net that is almost impossible to cut it through. How should the US deal with that monster? Is it possible to fight back? Does it make sense?
As some monsters, the American regulators evolve. They change and grow. So what you saw at the beginning as something beneficial for everyone now has an agenda that is full of "innocent" branches growing from an indiscernible and untraceable roots. Take into account this lines from the beginning of the book: "Environmental regulations are not always about environmental protection. Today, more than ever, regulations seem to have been designed by accountants rather than by scientists." So at some moment in this story enters the money, right? "[Thus] the focus is on the the nth decimal place and superfluous sets of overlapping records. Actual impacts on the environment fade into the background. Few seem to realize that the country has grown... cleaner every year. [In spite of it] much of the public believes that the planer is dying..."
But that is not all. As the author of the foreword, Dr. Jay Lehr, put it: "Although the bulk of the folks working in the government/environment scare complex are in it for the money, a clear socialist element has also crept in..."
Do you need more reasons for reading the book? I'm Chilean, and in my country the same organizations (with different names) follow you, follow your models, your ideas, no matter how crazy or insane they are. The problem is that my country is an underdeveloped one so the damage this agencies do to us is so great and deep, that we won't have even the chance of being a developed one. They are destroying us before born. So we need you to stop this witch hunt, and the way of doing it is by reading, nothing else, and comparing and contrasting ideas, something this book makes perfectly well.
(If you are interested in this book you should also try The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels. They are both in good company.)
I've always been envious of Rich's abilities to take very complex and convoluted issues and simplify them into understandable and sound explanations. "Regulators Gone Wild" is an example of this process. His viewpoints presented in this book are generally opposed to over regulation of the environment covering all media (air to waste), which I'm in agreement. My only complaint is that his examples are from predominately Illinois and USEPA Region 5 (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota), which I can understand since most of his professional experience has been gained in this region, as much as my own (I started working as an EPA contractor in EPA Region 5 on a Superfund contract - yes, a product of the environmental industry created from environmental laws).
I wished Rich would have provided details on the origins of USEPA and provided a quick overview of the workings of the U.S. government to show how USEPA is directed to get their mission completed. For example, during the creation of USEPA, functions from other U.S. Government departments, such as the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture and Department of Health, Education and Welfare, were pulled and placed into the Agency. As a result, organizational cultures and sub-cultures from these other departments were pulled into a complete new organization -USEPA.
As far as the overview on the workings of the government, prior to USEPA regulating anything, Congress must first pass an act enabling USEPA to create regulations that must be signed by the President and be codified into the United States Code. Then USEPA goes through their regulatory process - possibly an advance notice of rulemaking or proposed rulemaking being published in the Federal Register. A commenting period occurs with possible public hearings. Once all the comments have been reviewed, USEPA publishes the final regulation with explanation of revisions in response to the public comments. Once the final regulation has been published in the Federal Register, the regulation takes effect based on the effective date contained in the regulation or the "phase-in" date (e.g., 90 days after publication) contained in the Federal Register notice. I won't delve into the impacts of the Executive Orders that have the full force of law, since issuances are typically made is pursuance of certain acts of Congress. These processes, have aided in "Regulators Gone Wild" since interpretation is involved by the Agency to comprehend what Congress meant in the enabling act and putting that into the regulations. Once the regulations are finalized, there is interpretation by the Agency field personnel and States environmental agencies, authorized to run the appropriate program, and, then we throw in the courts interpretation of what the act and regulations meant when a legal case is brought in front of them. All these interpretations may then end up in an EPA Headquarter or Regional Office guidance document used for determining compliance with the regulations.
From an organizational theory and behavior perspective, USEPA is a bureaucratic organization that is rule-bound, over-procedural, and protects its authority and influence, which can be seen in the Introduction and Chapter 4 - More Toxins, Please. USEPA could be considered to have a federal decentralization structure whereby there are a number of independent units operating simultaneously, and, being a large organization, is quite stable. And, with this size, would attempt to influence its environment. Further, this bureaucratic structure impact on organizational behavior may result in a sacrifice of substantive justice for procedural justice. Thus, from this view point, it helps in explaining "Regulators Gone Wild".
I am also surprised Rich didn't remark about USEPA being accused, on more than one occasion, of regulating by memoranda and/or guidance documents, which plays into the "Regulators Gone Wild" theme. The most recent case to my knowledge was a January 14, 2011 U.S. District Court ruling that USEPA likely exceeded the bounds of its statutory authority and violated the Administrative Procedure Act by relying on interpretive guidance to establish protective standards under environmental laws.
Citizen suits and environmental watchdog groups created out of the environmental laws and regulations,
through provisions in the environmental laws and regulations and legal standing issues, have brought force to bear on enforcement of various environmental regulations. If USEPA hasn't met a certain deadline in issuance of a regulation, they take the Agency to court. I believe, to get these groups off the Agency's back and from throwing monkey wrenches into the Agency's budget, the Agency will put together a regulation that meets the minimal requirements. And, depending on the statutory Act enabling the regulation, the Agency revisits the regulation to make corrections. From the organizational theory and behavior perspective, this is the result of the processes developed in the Agency's environment.
Overall, I'm in agreement with Rich's conclusions. However, as Rich noted with both political parties being obstacles to reform, I believe the repetition issue will not be resolved easily due to the structure of the Agency (Headquarters and Regional Offices). Also, I see problems with the equity issue regarding more reasonable enforcement of the regulations since they have been established by the enabling acts (Clean Air Act and amendments, Clean Water Act and amendments, etc.). Finally, I'm in firm agreement that the process of attempting to address the causes for "Regulators Gone Wild" will take a decade or more because of the entrenchment of processes and the organizations involved.