Republican Senate Candidate Vows to Rein in EPA

Published April 20, 2016

A Republican U.S. Senate candidate says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be reined in or defunded entirely.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), one of a trio of U.S. House lawmakers who is looking to graduate to the Senate in November, called for the roll back of EPA at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which was held March 2–5.

Stutzman, along with Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) and Louisiana Rep. John Fleming (R), appeared at the conference’s Power Hour event, which was billed as a meeting of “conservative congressional heroes.” All three congressmen are currently engaged in competitive GOP primary races for the opportunity to win an open-seat Senate race.

During his speech, Stutzman called for paring down EPA, the Energy Department (DOE), and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He told the crowd EPA now considers itself above the people, while DOE is “without the people” and IRS is “against the people.”

“Stutzman is right about the EPA,” said Marita Noon, executive director for Energy Makes America Great. “It had a role in the 1970s, but as America has cleaned up its environment, the EPA is less and less relevant.

“The law of diminishing returns set in at EPA long ago,” Noon said. “Like any entrenched bureaucracy, it has grown ever more aggressive in trying to maintain funding. 

Republicans Are United

Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, says many Republicans are united when it comes to taming the EPA.

“[Republicans] believe the federal agency is out of control and it’s one of the main obstacles to economic growth in our country,” Ebell said. “And it’s not just the far right, but also people like [Sen.] Mitch McConnell and pretty much everybody down the aisle. They’re all united.”

Harder Than It Sounds

Even if Republicans are united, analysts note it is difficult to end a federal program.

 “You would not only need a Republican president, you would need a Republican president who is determined to act, because he can’t just wave a magic wand and say, ‘I’m abolishing the EPA,'” said Ebell.

“Reducing the power of EPA will not be easy but it can be done if both the public and the government are convinced that no reduction in environmental protection need accompany a reduction in the size and power of EPA,” said Jay Lehr, science director at The Heartland Institute, publisher of Environment & Climate News. “States have long done the lion’s share of environmental protection work on behalf of the public.

“Now is the time to shift all of the decision making responsibility to those same states and away from the EPA,” Lehr said.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.