Politicize the EPA!

Me at 35,000 feet

So here I am late in the evening on a rare flight (LAX to JFK) that has in-flight Internet.  Despite topping 100K of flight miles (a dubious achievement, believe me; plus I really don’t like knowing TSA agents by their first names anyway) in both of the last two years, this is only the second flight I’ve been on with wi-fi.  If you must know, I’m on my way to New York for a secret, confidential meeting of perhaps some consequence, and being secret and confidential naturally I’m going to tell you all about it.

Actually, I’m not.  I’ll only say that I’ve been invited by some introspective liberals (rare perhaps, but not an oxymoron) to have a lengthy conversation with them.  Which is the kind of argument that I think is worth doing.

Meanwhile, they may throw me out if they happen to read the Wall Street Journal first thing Wednesday morning, where I have an article saying that we really ought to politicize the EPAWhat!?!?  You mean the EPA isn’t political enough already?  Actually, yes.  I argue that the EPA ought to be organized and run by a five member commission (like CPSC, NLRB, NRC, etc) instead of the sole, oracle-like “administrator” model.  Since the article will be behind a paywall for many Power Line readers, here’s an excerpt to give you a flavor of the argument:

There is a reason Congress has adopted the commission model. While a bipartisan consensus exists for regulating some parts of the economy by independent agencies that harness specialized expertise, there remains an underlying partisan disagreement about the means and ends of policy. The commission model recognizes and accommodates these disagreements, with a process that emphasizes public debate and is more transparent and accountable.

The EPA’s single-administrator model, on the other hand, is based on what amounts to a conceit that some policy matters are beyond politics or meaningful controversy. This is the apotheosis of the Progressive Era ideal, or rather myth, of enlightened administration by neutral experts. It is also a tactic to deny that what are deeply political administrative decisions are in fact political. The single-administrator model makes it much easier for an ideologue like Ms. Jackson to use the regulatory process as a steamroller to achieve policy goals.

A bipartisan commission would change this dynamic. The president would, as is customary, still appoint a majority of the commissioners, including the chairman. But the minority would have their dissent on policy matters on the record.

And finally this at the end:

If you think reforming the EPA into a five-member commission is a modest reform of little consequence, here’s a suggestion. Have House Republicans introduce a bill to do this, and watch how ferociously the environmental establishment fights it.

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