Monday, March 31, 2014
Tim Jones: We're still fighting the good fight against federal overreaching
Earlier this year I established the Bipartisan Investigatory Committee on Regulatory Overreach to investigate the continued overreach of the government through excessive, burdensome regulations. I formed the committee in part because of the overwhelming number of Missourians who have expressed frustration at the amount of bureaucratic red tape that exists, and in part as a response to a controversy in Southeast Missouri regarding the federal government’s mismanagement of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
During our work on the budget this week, this topic emerged again as we discussed $6 million currently in the House spending plan to allow the state to manage the Ozark National Scenic Riverways in the event the National Park Service relinquishes control. The federal government has proposed a number of management plans for this beautiful part of Southeast Missouri that has angered local residents and businesses. They are upset because some of the plans have the potential to impose burdensome regulations that could harm the local economy. We put additional funding in the budget to position the state to manage this state treasure in the event we can regain control of the park from the federal government.
Later in the week the theme of fighting against federal overregulation emerged again as we discussed legislation that would push back against new federal regulations on wood-burning stoves. The bill (HB 1302) would prohibit our state natural resources department from putting any of these regulations in place without first receiving approval from the General Assembly. The bill is necessary because of a rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency that would give wood stove manufacturers a period of five years to reduce emissions from their products by approximately 80 percent. Manufacturers have complained that the new standards will cause costs to skyrocket and may result in many owners going out of business. By passing this change into law we can ensure only reasonable regulations will be put into place in our state, which will protect not only manufacturers but also the many Missourians who use wood-burning stoves.
The other piece of legislation discussed this week (HB 1631) is another effort to reject burdensome EPA regulations. The bill is meant to limit the impact of the proposed regulations on carbon emissions for existing coal-fired power plants. It is important to point out that we are a state that relies very heavily on coal for our energy needs. In fact, nearly 80 percent of our electricity is generated from coal. It is vital that we take steps to ensure the federal government cannot reach into our state and turn the lights off by putting excessively burdensome regulations in place on our energy providers.
HB 1631 would specify that the Air Conservation Commission, which is part of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, will have the authority to develop emissions standards and compliance schedules under federal law. It is a change that would give the state the control and flexibility it needs to prevent potentially burdensome federal mandates from driving up prices for consumers.