Former Sen. Lincoln discusses changing EPA agenda

Is the Obama administration making an about-face on air regulations? During today's OnPoint, former Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who is currently working with the National Federation of Independent Business on its "Small Business for Sensible Regulations" campaign, discusses changes to U.S. EPA's agenda and explains why she believes EPA should re-evaluate all of its upcoming regulations. Lincoln also weighs in on whether EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson should continue her work with the agency.


Monica Trauzzi: Hello and welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today is former Senator Blanche Lincoln. Senator Lincoln is currently working with the National Federation of Independent Business on their Small Business for Sensible Regulations campaign and she's also a policy adviser at Alston & Bird. Senator Lincoln, thanks for coming on the show.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Thank you, Monica. I'm delighted to be with you. And to all your viewers, I know you've got a lot of real fans there in some of the Senate and House staff. They are always anxious to pick you up on the Web.

Monica Trauzzi: Well, thank you, that's nice to hear.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Yeah, no, it's good.

Monica Trauzzi: Thanks. So senator, you're calling for a reevaluation of regulations, including EPA's regulations, because you feel they could have a negative impact on the economy. How does your pitch differ though from what we're hearing from many Republicans in Congress right now?

Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Well, I think one of the things that we all have to remember is our number one objective right here is to create jobs in this country, put our economy back on track. And small businesses are the logical place to go for that. Small business are half of our GDP in this country, 60 percent of our private workforce. They are two thirds of all of the net new jobs that are created in this country annually are created by small businesses. And they get hit disproportionately hard by any regulation from agencies, but particularly EPA, but others as well. And so what we're trying to do and I'm working with the National Federation of Independent Businesses. They've been a great group. I worked with them when I was in the House and in the Senate. I come from a state, although we have major retailers and other things in Arkansas, our biggest employer are small businesses and so working with them to really get out the message to our small businesses across the country. And this is all driven by the 400 plus a thousand NFIB members that are out there, it's all driven by them. But to say you've got a say in this, in terms of creating jobs, and the small businesses for sensible regulation wants to point out the fact that so many of these regulations don't make sense, they're not thoroughly vetted and the cost benefit for what it's costing small businesses and costing the country in jobs and in the economy, is not worth what you may or may not get out of it. And I think that's a really important thing. We're not saying that we need to eliminate all regulation, but there are some regulations that could be eliminated.

Monica Trauzzi: OK, so which ones are those?

Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Well, I think one of the things that we want to say is, is that you can not only eliminate for multiple reasons, one, is there a proper cost-benefit analysis that has been done? Are we really looking at the right way to do those cost-benefit analyses? Are we using the right kind of quantitative and qualitative analysis? Are we also using the kind of information across agencies that is standardized? Are we using outside, independent reviewers for those things? It's certainly not appropriate for the agency that's writing the rule or the reg to be the one that's actually doing the analysis. I mean we need independent analysis; thoughtful, independent analysis. When we talk about elimination -- or, more importantly, just a better review of regs. The ozone was a great example and we worked hard getting that message out, that not only has this gone too far in terms of the 90 percent of the counties across the country that are going to be affected with this non-attainment, but it's not even due until 2013. And to put that kind of regulation into place for small businesses and other industries across the country at a time when they need to be creating jobs. You know, some of it -- the dust for farms, which is something that I'm particularly passionate about, is agriculture. The dust and the -- the dust particles and the dust rule that's coming out, you know, it just wrecks havoc on agricultural production at a time when we really need to make sure that we're focused on what agriculture can do for the economy.

Monica Trauzzi: So, on the ozone regulations, is that a sufficient response from the administration to the calls that we've been hearing from industry? If that's the only one that they roll back, is that enough?

Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Well, no. I mean our hope is, is that they will take a look at all of these things. The MACT, the regulation on boilers, I mean, that's a huge issue where, you know, again, you've got everything from hospitals to businesses and industries all across -- schools across this country that are being asked to the possibility of meeting a regulation that's not even based on health, but it's based on technology the majority of them cannot even reach. I mean those are the kinds of things -- we're just asking EPA and the administration to have some common sense, that when we talk about jobs, we talk about those who really create them in the small business arena, you know, to be practical and to use some common sense, use some good, independent analysis in terms of cost benefit of what these rules and regs are going to be doing and, you know, let's be practical about things.

Monica Trauzzi: EPA hasn't yet sent its proposed rule of greenhouse gas emissions for utilities to OMB. The deadline is September 30. Do you take that as a sign that maybe there are some other regulations that they're thinking of rolling back on?

Sen. Blanche Lincoln: I certainly hope so. I mean, that is definitely what we've been aiming for is to make sure -- and you can go to our Website,, and that is where you can see these small businesses talking about what they face on a day-to-day basis, the cost of it, the time, how it is, you know, prohibitive towards them being able to reinvest their resources into their businesses to create new jobs. And it's not just the new regs that come out, it is the uncertainty of what happens. You know, you're exactly right, delaying that greenhouse gas emission rule is something that should be done if we don't have all the facts, if we don't have the appropriate cost-benefit analysis, if we don't have the appropriate analysis of what, you know, is going to actually happen with that. OMB has got to have -- I mean, sometimes it can take them two or three or four months, you know, to get that information out. And that is absolutely appropriate and it should not go forward until we have all that information. But when there are over 4200 new pending regulations out there, it just creates this unbelievable arena of uncertainty in businesses large and small, but particularly small, because they get hit harder. They're not going to take their own money and spend $10,000 or $10 million, because they don't know what those types of regs are going to cost them.

Monica Trauzzi: Do you think the president is backpedaling on his clean energy agenda right now? And if so, is that the smartest political calculation that he could be making?

Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Well, I hope not. This isn't about whether people want to see investments in new and innovative and clean energies. We just want to make sure it's done properly. And I think, you know, there is a proper way to do it and I think that-and hopefully that the president will continue to look at practically what these, you know, the rules and regs coming-out of whether it's EPA or whether it's OSHA or whether it's, you know, the Department of Agriculture or HHS or any of these agencies, when those regs are written, are they making sense? Have they had the appropriate cost-benefit analysis? Have they had the proper oversight and are we getting out of them what it's costing us, if it does, in jobs? And I think that's really a key component of putting this economy back on track.

Monica Trauzzi: You were pretty critical of Lisa Jackson's EPA while you were in the Senate. She's taking a big blow with the rollback of ozone and some people are pointing to the fact that she may leave EPA soon. What do you think? Should she stay or should she leave?

Sen. Blanche Lincoln: If she's willing to listen to what is going on out in, you know, middle America, in hard-working businesses in small towns all across this country that are trying to create jobs, you know, I'm all about making sure the people have the opportunity to do what they need to do, as long as they are listening to what's going on in America and what's going on in these small businesses that are, again, responsible for the creation of two thirds of the net new jobs that we produce every year annually. So I hope that maybe she is listening. I was critical at times. I felt like that there were opportunities where particularly industries and businesses in Arkansas could have done a tremendous job at growing their businesses, being more competitive internationally, being able to provide good jobs in small communities and in large communities and do so in a very responsible way, responsible to the environment, responsible to the economy. And there has to be a balance there. There just has to be a balance there.

Monica Trauzzi: All right, senator, we're going to end it right there. Thank you for coming on the show.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln: Oh, it's great to be with you.

Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

[End of Audio]



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