I read the bill, and I can’t support it

By Dr. Rand Paul

When I ran for office, I made a promise to Kentucky that I would always read the bills. So last week in the Senate when regulation of the chemical industry came up for a rushed vote, I told my colleagues, “Give me time to read what’s in it before I vote on behalf of the people I represent.”

Any Kentuckian who is fed up with the federal government’s regulatory overreach will be glad that I did.

I spent the past week reading this bill, a sweeping federal takeover of chemical regulations, and I am now more worried than I was before I read it.

First and foremost, this bill gives more power to the Environmental Protection Agency. As a Kentuckian, I can’t in good conscience vote for a bill that makes the EPA stronger.

This bill, which is a dangerous preemption of state laws, gives the EPA the power to decide at some later date how and to what extent to regulate the chemical industry at the federal level. In fact, more than 100 times the bill leaves discretionary authority to the EPA to make decisions or create new rules.

I always thought that we needed more balance, not less​, in deciding on new regulations. I always thought that we should balance the environment and the economy. Instead of balancing the economic effects and the environmental effects, this bill explicitly says that the economic impact of regulations is only considered after the EPA has decided to regulate.

I’ve always wondered, when businesses get together and seek federal regulation, have they not paid any attention to what has been going on in Washington? Are they unaware of the devastating explosion of federal regulations?

The Obama-Clinton War on Coal largely came from regulations that were extensions of seemingly bland well-intended laws from the 1970s.

As such, the supporters of this bill should have to come to Kentucky and meet the sixteen thousand people the current EPA put out of work and ask them what they think of Hillary Clinton’s plan to continue putting coal miners out of business. They should have to come to Kentucky, look our coal miners in the face, and tell them, “This bill increases the power of the same federal agency destroying your industry.”

The regulations that are crippling and destroying our jobs in Kentucky were not passed by Congress. These job-killing regulations are monsters that emerged from the toxic swamp of big government bureaucrats at the EPA.

Laws like the Clean Water Act were well intended – legislating that you can’t discharge pollutants into a navigable stream. I’m for that. But somehow the courts and the bureaucrats came to decide that dirt was a pollutant and your backyard just might have a “nexus” to a puddle, which has a nexus to a ditch, which was frequented by a migratory bird, that might have flown from the ditch to the Great Lakes. Today, the EPA can now jail you for putting dirt on your own land.

Reading this bill leads me to wonder if the federal takeover of chemical regulations will eventually morph into a war on chemical companies similar to what happened to the coal industry. I don’t know, but for the sake of Kentucky and our autonomy, it concerns me enough to examine this bill closely.

Anytime we are told that everyone is for something, anytime we are told that we should stand aside and not challenge the status quo, I become suspicious that it is precisely the time someone needs to look very closely at what is happening.

How can it be that the very businesses who face the threat of overregulation support the federalization of regulations? I’m sure they are sincere. They want uniformity and predictability, which are admirable desires. They don’t want the national standard of regulations to devolve to the worst standard of regulation.

Instead of passing more regulations, what could chemical companies do to fight overzealous regulatory states? What they already do, move to friendly states. If California inappropriately regulates your chemicals, charge them more and by all means move! We’d love to have your business in Kentucky.

What these businesses, who favor federalization of regulations, fail to understand is that the history of federal regulations is a dismal one. Well-intended, limited regulations morph into ill-willed, expansive and intrusive regulations. What these businesses fail to grasp is that while states like California and Vermont may pass burdensome, expensive regulations, other states like Texas and Tennessee and Kentucky are relative havens for business growth.

When businesses plead for federal regulations to supersede the ill-conceived regulations of California and Vermont, they fail to understand that once regulations are centralized, the history of regulations in Washington is only to grow.

Just look at the food industry. Food distributors clamored for federal regulations on labeling. Restaurants advocated for menu standards. And now that we have federal menu standards, we also have…. federal menu crimes. You can be imprisoned in America for posting the wrong calorie count on your menu!

Whether its regulations in the food industry, banking, healthcare, or the environment, does anyone remember ever seeing a limited, reasonable federal standard that stayed limited and reasonable?

No. Which is why I absolutely cannot grant any more power to the EPA. We should be voting to restrain the EPA, to make sure they balance regulation with jobs. We should be voting to pass the REINS act, which requires new regulations to be voted on by Congress before they become enforceable.

Instead this bill inevitably adds hundreds of new regulations. It pre-empts the Constitution’s intentions for the federal government. It gives power to the very federal agency that has destroyed an entire industry.

So why isn’t there more outrage? Why aren’t people standing up for their states and defending them from the federal government’s attempts to over​-​​regulate?

Maybe they didn’t read the bill.

But I did. And I stood up for Kentucky and opposed it.


By Dr. Rand Paul

Senator Rand Paul, M.D., was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. He and his family live in Bowling Green.

Senator Rand Paul, M.D., was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. He and his family live in Bowling Green.


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