Tuesday, August 24, 2010

EPA's dioxin regulations try to solve a problem that doesn't exist

BY RICHARD P. RUSH Oklahoman Published: August 18, 2010

Tell me if this sounds familiar. Washington issues a regulation that makes little sense and will do nothing useful. States, local communities, farmers and Oklahoma businesses are required to comply and bear the financial burden.

This time, with state coffers empty from the recession, we have to ask why the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing regulations that will cost the states and their citizens plenty to solve a problem that doesn't exist. The EPA wants to issue new cleanup standards in September for dioxin in soil that will require recleaning Superfund sites that have already been cleaned up once to meet previous EPA standards.

Unfortunately, the EPA's new proposed standards, which are hundreds of times tighter than the old ones, are not based on any new and compelling scientific evidence. According to the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of Defense, the proposal is based on flawed assumptions.

Regulations on dioxin already have been very successful, resulting in a dramatic decrease in dioxin levels in the environment. According to EPA, "U.S. dioxin emissions from man-made sources have declined more than 92 percent since 1987." Although this trend would continue if left alone, EPA's proposal will cost millions, disrupt communities and endanger our unsteady economic situation.

Oklahoma does not need more costly federal regulations that may jeopardize a fragile recovery. By making arbitrary changes in the standards, the EPA makes it impossible for people to make reliable decisions — about where they will live, where they will build, where they will invest. When businesses sense an unstable environment, they see risk, and either go elsewhere or stop investing altogether.

And what will these new standards accomplish? In a word: nothing. Dioxin comes not just from man-made sources but from natural events like brush fires. Consequently, it is found everywhere in the environment in low concentrations. We cannot rid the earth of it. There is no scientific evidence that the extremely small amounts found in soil pose a threat.

Oklahoma doesn't have extra resources we can waste on non-problems. The state lost almost $1 billion in revenue last year. Unlike Washington, where spending goes unchecked, in Oklahoma we balance our budget. Having to make further sacrifices in essential areas like education and services for seniors so we can pay instead to meet unscientific and unnecessary federal standards is an abuse of power.

Our congressional delegation should urge the White House and Office of Management and Budget not to advance these new rules until scientific evidence validates the need and the health benefits for such actions. The EPA must rethink what it is doing, focus on policies that will produce useful results and not drive more jobs offshore.

Rush, former president & CEO of The State Chamber of Oklahoma, is chairman of Rush Strategies LLC in Edmond.

Read more: http://newsok.com/epas-dioxin-regulations-try-to-solve-a-problem-that-doesnt-exist/article/3486099#ixzz0xY70Q0k3

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