Inhofe Stands By Daily Caller EPA Story

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 28 2011 5:00 PM

Inhofe Stands By Daily Caller EPA Story

Over at Politico, Dan Berman dissects a Daily Caller story which claims that the EPA will "spend $21 billion per year to hire an additional 230,000 people to enforce greenhouse gas regulations." The truth is complicated. The EPA is not threatening to spend that money or hire those employees. It's saying that it needs a "tailoring rule" -- as in a rule that lets it tailor its regulations to certain companies -- to avoid such an outcome.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

[T]he Justice Department filed an extensive brief outlining some of the potential costs if the tailoring rule were blocked. Among them, DOJ said, the $21 billion and 230,000 employees could be needed to help regulate more than 6 million sources.
“Hiring the 230,000 full-time employees necessary to produce the 1.4 billion work hours required to address the actual increase in permitting functions would result in an increase in the Title V administration costs of $21 billion per year,” DOJ wrote.
DOJ adds that the tailoring rule is designed specifically to avoid that kind of scenario.
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Not news: A magazine gets a story wrong.* News: Several enviro-skeptic Republicans latched onto the story to make their cases against the EPA. The office of Sen. James Inhofe, who is to environmentalism what Sen. John Bricker was to internationalism, blasted it out with an "In Case You Missed It" tag. (ICYMIs are used by campaigns and flacks to nudge reporters onto stories they like.)

Did the Politico story make Inhofe's staff regret the link? No, said spokesman Matt Dempsey.

"They essentially re-wrote the Media Matters piece critiquing that article," Dempsey said. "This all about the tailoring rule, and when you think about it, the tailoring rule is probably indefensible in court. I don't think the story is deceptive. I think it's right on."

The reason for Dempsey's confidence: If the tailoring rule doesn't hold up, the EPA will necessarily have to step up its regulatory activity, and the $21 billion number was its own estimate for what that mistake would cost. "The only thing the story got wrong was the use of the word 'asking,'" said Dempsy. "They wouldn't be 'asking' American taxpayers to pick up the tab. I think it's clear the EPA would be demanding it."

*Not that this has ever happened to me.


David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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