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Opinion: Lawmaker responsibility

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From Ray Bradbury’s, The Martian Chronicles:  They came on parties and vacations … they came to study and apply sociological laws; they came with stars and badges and rules and regulations, bringing some of the red tape that had crawled across Earth like an alien weed, letting it grow on Mars wherever it could take root.  They began to plan people’s lives and libraries …

Right here at gift giving time, we probably should not be surprised that several of our alphabetically identified federal agencies are planning our lives with 3,415 new regulations.  And they’re not limited to red ribbon wrapping – there’s lots of green, as well, reminding us of the breathtaking cost of many of these likely unnecessary new rules.

Timing, they say, is everything – especially if public pushback isn’t desirable, and while pushback on numerous of the Obama administration’s “regulatory roadmap” for 2015 is desperately needed, it’s more likely that most Americans are chasing the latest blue light special of the holiday season.  But implementation of some of these regulations may be so costly in the long run that future Black Fridays and holiday shopping will be far less well funded.

What should be a chief concern for all:  the cost of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to limit greenhouse emissions from new and existing power plants.   According to a study cited in a November 26, 2014 Investor’s Business Daily editorial, “…annual costs for residential, commercial and industrial energy users would be $173 billion higher in 2020 and average household gas and power bills would rise by $680, or 35%, just to cut global greenhouse gases by less than 0.01%.”

Wonder what our local electric bills would be for a really hot summer?

Then there’s the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rule that would require posting of calorie counts for chain restaurants and large vending machine companies.  As a part of the Affordable Care Act, this regulation isn’t just a matter of posting calories on menu or menu board – subject chains would also have to provide extensive nutritional information such as calories from fat, cholesterol, sodium, etc.

It’s not expected that chain and vending machine operators who don’t already offer this information will eat the cost of providing it.  As noted by the same Investor’s Business Daily editorial, “… new Menu Labeling Standards would apply to hundreds of thousands of small restaurants, with a cost estimated as high as $4,000 per store.

So, maybe more healthy cooking at home – on the electric range that costs more to operate?

But perhaps the most egregious of the few federal intrusions explored for review for this column is the EPA’s proposed water regulations that do an end-run around both Clean Water Act definitions and two Supreme Court rulings.  These proposed regulations have the very real potential for great expansion of EPA reach to regulating even small bodies of water on private property.  We’re talking a low spot that fills with water in a heavy rain – not just on a farmer’s property, but even my back yard could qualify.

The cost of just these few examples to us: Billions of dollars.

If we in northwest Louisiana really care about an amazingly costly expansion of federal over reach, we’ll let whoever our federal lawmaking representatives are come Saturday know that we agree with the concluding sentiments of the Investor’s Business Daily editorial:

“Shame on the White House for imposing such burdens on employers and families when finances are tight and jobs still scarce.  Shame on Congress for letting it happen.

“In January the new Congress should pass the Reins Act.  It requires congressional approval for all new regulations costing more than $100 million.  It should do so, then cut the budgets of agencies that don’t comply.

“Last time we checked, Congress still had the power of the purse.  It should start using it.”

Amen.

Marty Carlson is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. She may be reached via email at martycarlson1218@gmail.com