EPA works with industry, not ‘overreaching’

(Opinion)Charleston Gazette-Mail 

  • By Eric Engle
  • May 2, 2023



Republicans in West Virginia are absolutely obsessed with claiming that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is “overreaching” in its regulation of industry, especially fossil fuels and derivative industries. Hoppy Kercheval just made the claim again in an op-ed in the Gazette-Mail, continuing this tired refrain. It’s nonsense.

First of all, state regulators have a tremendous amount of authority that the federal EPA lacks. In West Virginia, we have the Department of Environmental Protection, a misnomer due to regulatory capture. When industry isn’t permitted to just “regulate” itself, it’s often charged fines so miniscule that it considers them the cost of doing business.

Secondly, the EPA, more often than not, reaches what are called consent decrees with the industries it oversees. This is a negotiated settlement entered as a court order to make sure it is enforceable. It is almost unheard of that the EPA would issue what is referred to as a unilateral administrative order to require parties to take a response action.