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Rolling Back EPA Overreach

Bradley Byrne

By Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-1)

Last week, the House of Representatives, once again, found ourselves having to pass a bill to roll back overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA is one of the most out-of-control agencies in the entire federal government. It seems like every week the EPA comes out with a new regulation on everything from power plants to light bulbs to brick companies.

The EPA was created in 1970 for the purpose of protecting human health and the environment in implementing laws passed by Congress. Since that time, the agency has grown in both scope and scale, establishing overly burdensome regulations on their own. Many of these unattainable standards have been damaging to our economy and to our competitiveness as a nation.

I understand the importance of protecting our environment, but it is imperative we seek the appropriate balance between environmental safeguards and the ability for American industry to achieve success.

This time, we found ourselves having to push back against the EPA as it relates to regulation of the brick industry. Last September, the EPA finalized a new rule, known as Brick MACT, that set stringent standards for brick industry emissions of mercury and non-mercury pollutants.

EPA estimates that the industry-wide annual compliance with the proposed rule would cost $25 million. Industry estimates are that the costs may be as much as $100 million per year.

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Unlike some of the other industries targeted by EPA overreach, the brick industry is dominated by small, family-owned businesses that have already been struggling in our current economy.

The brick industry employs thousands of Americans at more than 70 brick plants and countless supporting facilities across the country. Alabama is one of the top five states for brick manufacturing capacity and faces some of the largest number of losses should this new rule go into effect.

That’s why the House stepped in and passed H.R. 4557, the BRICK Act of 2016. This legislation passed with bipartisan support, including the vote of my Alabama Democrat colleague, Terri Sewell.

The American people are sick and tired of a federal government that is out of control. They are sick of federal bureaucrats putting forward ill-advised rules and regulations that kill American jobs.

I can’t imagine the founders of our country at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia saying “now let’s think about a government agency established under our Constitution to regulate bricks.” They would be appalled if they saw what the federal bureaucracy has become.

The American people want their representatives in Congress to fight back against this overreach. We must protect the American people from this regulation run amuck and help save their jobs.

There is some good news. Since Republicans took control of the House in 2012, we have used the power of the purse to roll back some of the EPA’s influence. In fact, we have cut the EPA back to 1989 staff levels, but our efforts don’t stop there. We have also blocked EPA’s coal dust rule and their regulation of lead ammunition.

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Despite these efforts, more work is most certainly needed. Congress must do even more to take power away from the EPA and reassert our Constitutional authority. I intend to continue leading the charge for a smaller, less intrusive federal government that gets out of the way so our economy can grow.

Bradley Byrne is the president and CEO of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce and a former Republican congressman who represented Alabama's 1st Congressional District.

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