‘Republican’ Senators Seek to Empower EPA

When was the last time you saw a bunch of Republican senators calling for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be “strong” and “tough” on standards? When was the last time you saw a bunch of Republican senators claiming government intervention in the free market was a good thing to be sought after?  When was the last time you saw a bunch of Republican senators promoting environmentalism and advancing the global warming agenda?

Ethanol plant in South Bend, Indiana (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Ethanol plant in South Bend, Indiana (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Well, if you’ve been paying attention, it would be at least as recent as April 2015.

According to the Biofuels Digest, 37 U.S. senators–including 11 Republicans–sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calling for “strong” biofuel standards to be imposed on free market businesses.

Those senators are: Dick Durbin (D-IL) Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Both Republican senators from my state of South Dakota, John Thune and Mike Rounds, are on that list. Those who were watching the U.S. Senate race in South Dakota last year will recall that we were told by RINO Mike Rounds‘ supporters that, despite his liberal record as governor, he could be relied on to bring “common sense South Dakota conservative values” to Washington where he’d vote like a conservative. We were also told by some of Rounds’ less enthusiastic (and more desperate) supporters that Senator John Thune would lead Rounds by the nose into voting the right way.

Since when have conservatives wanted to empower the lawless, tyrannical EPA to do anything?

Woodrow Wilcox


The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which established the Renewable Fuel Standard, revolves largely around “environmentally friendly” non-fossil fuel energy and seems to be predicated on the scientifically unsupported Marxist claims that anthropogenic global warming exists and is dangerously warming the planet.

Producing ethanol for fuel has for years been blamed for increases in food prices (as material that would normally be used for food is instead used to produce ethanol) and cited as ultimately unproductive because it takes as much or more energy to produce ethanol as we get out of it.



Interestingly, like so many things environmental extremists push (like President Obama’s celebration of Earth day by burning thousands of gallons of jet fuel), ethanol production will likely do little that’s actually positive for the environment and may actually end up causing more problems. The National Academy of Sciences reported that “air-quality modeling suggests that production and use of ethanol to displace gasoline is likely to increase air pollutants such as particulate matter, ozone, and sulfur oxides.  In addition, published estimates of water use over the life cycle of corn-grain ethanol are higher than petroleum-based fuels.”

We also don’t need the $770 billion hit to our economy the Renewable Fuels Standard brings.  Our economy is already struggling under regulatory costs greater than most of the entire plant combined. That kind of regulator encumbrance isn’t a Republican value, either, and certainly isn’t a limited government or constitutional one.

If ethanol was really a viable energy source and a good economic product, it wouldn’t need big government to subsidize it, to carve out unnatural places for it in the free market, to force it on businesses and consumers.  The fact that ethanol (like solar and wind power) does not stand on its own merits speaks volumes: it would be an unproductive flop without massive government infusions of cash, protectionism and mandates.

I’m sympathetic to agriculture. I grew up the son of a farm, and married into a ranching family. I also know the ag industry speaks with big money in South Dakota and other agricultural states. But when it comes to establishing policy for our nation, we must but the national interest first.  Not put our campaign coffers first, not dad or Uncle Fred’s interest, but our nation’s interest first. A free nation cannot long survive if the order of the day is feathering one’s own nest at the expense of freedom and the public interest.

And our nation has no interest in government meddling where the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to act–and sorry, the last time I checked Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, there was zero authority for the federal government to get involved, either pro or con, in the agriculture industry, the energy industry, for the government to issue unconstitutional edicts to businesses, or for the federal government to dictate products and practices to free market businesses at all.

Which means these senators are promoting a more powerful and influential EPA, and big government.

A real Republican stance on ethanol would look something like Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s which supports allowing ethanol to compete in the free market, but without government mandates and taxpayer subsidies. A business that wants its product to compete (and succeed) in a free market will work very hard to make that product as good and attractive to consumers as possible; a business whose product is protected by government, subsidized by taxpayers held at gunpoint, and mandated by government…well, instead of a competitive incentive, that business has an incentive to do whatever it takes to keep the subsidy and protectionist racket going (including making the right campaign donations to its benefactors).

Since when has the Republican Party, at either the state or national level, ever carved out a position of promoting environmentalism, runaway government agencies, and unconstitutional big government? The last I knew, Republicans everywhere railed against environmentalism, unaccountable government agencies and big government (note that what some say versus what some do, is a different matter).

Or is the “Republican” Party now the Hypocrites Party, and the line is “We stand against big government and unconstitutional meddling…except when it benefits us and our campaign donors”?


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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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