Cuccinelli: The EPA would do well to remember that we’re a nation of laws, not men

posted at 1:51 pm on January 4, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The odd-year gubernatorial election of what now feels like a solidly purple Virginia (…dagger) could potentially serve as a bellwether of which way the national attitude is trending after almost a year into President Obama’s second term, and conservative Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will be facing former DNC chief Terry McAuliffe in what will likely be a pretty rough race.

One of the items on which the Obama administration has already started moving “forward” in the more politically safe second-term-secured atmosphere is all of the regulations on which they were rather conspicuously holding back before the election, with the Environmental Protection Agency’s many determinedly zealous ideas for regulating our air and water figuring largely among them. The Clean Air and Water Acts have so far been some of the biggest legal boundary-busting culprits employed by the Obama EPA, and AG Cuccinelli just pulled out a major victory leading a case in which he argued that the EPA was trying to categorize water itself, rather than just the sediment in it, as a pollutant in order to further expand their authoritative whimsy over both it and us. Winning:

A federal district judge Thursday shot down a “novel” EPA attempt to regulate the flow of water as a pollutant, stopping dead in its tracks what otherwise would have been a major regulatory expansion. …

Cuccinelli personally argued the case before O’Grady on Dec. 14, warning the EPA’s attempt to regulate the flow of water into state waterways would amount to a “tremendous expansion” of its regulatory power. …

Assuming the judgment withstands appeal, it would spare Fairfax County an estimated $300 million in compliance costs. Nationwide, three other lawsuits against the EPA’s recent assertion of its authority to regulate water flow are pending. …

“EPA’s thinking here was that if Congress didn’t explicitly prohibit the agency from doing something, that meant it could, in fact, do it,” said Cuccinelli in his statement. …

“You know it’s bad when a partisan Democrat board of supervisors, like Fairfax County, will join us to sue the EPA,” he said. “That’s how bad it’s gotten.”

Governor McDonnell was definitely on board in support of both the lawsuit and Cuccinelli’s efforts:

Speaking about the ruling, Governor Bob McDonnell said, “The Commonwealth has just saved taxpayers an estimated more than $300 million by prevailing in a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for unlawfully attempting to regulate water itself as a pollutant. The EPA tried to regulate water as a pollutant in the Accotink Creek watershed. This would have required the Virginia Department of Transportation to spend at least an additional $70 million to retrofit its existing facilities and redesign new projects to comply with the regulations. Fairfax County would have had to spend more than $300 million to comply with the EPA mandate. Over time the regulation would have impacted numerous other projects, costing even more and having a negative impact on future job creation. …

This ruling today is a testament to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s good work to fight back on economically harmful, and unnecessary, regulations. The ruling will save millions of dollars now and much more in the future. It is a positive victory for the taxpayers of Virginia.”

If there’s anything that can get grassroots conservatives fired up for an election, it’s the federal government’s persistent displays of simply trying to do what they want, when they want, the economic and personal costs be damned — and Cuccinelli having spearheaded takedown will almost certainly be an excellent selling point on his gubernatorial-race resume in the coming months. The EPA is constantly raining (reigning?) down on businesses and communities with their bureaucratic ambitions that are based not so much on accurate science as political science, and a local-level example with bipartisan support like this isn’t a bad win to have in your back pocket.

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