‘I’m an anti-corporate zealot’: Why I want to get rid of Chevron and other petrochemical groups
In the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the industry was beset by lawsuits and congressional investigations.
The EPA had to act on behalf of the public, but a lot of the focus was on the industry’s ability to use its regulatory power to extract natural gas, the principal fuel for oil and gas drilling in the United States.
The agency’s efforts to tackle pollution, especially particulate matter, had the side effect of stifling innovation and investment in natural gas production, especially in the US.
“It’s just a very sad state of affairs that the EPA is understaffed, underfunded, underappreciated,” says Joe Connick, a former executive with ExxonMobil.
“They don’t seem to have the resources to address the problem.”
Connick has spent years working to help the EPA develop a regulatory framework to address these issues.
He argues that these efforts to reform the agency are not only necessary but also necessary for the future of our energy infrastructure.
“We have a very large and growing economy right now and if you don’t get it right, if you are not able to get it done, it is very likely that this country will be headed toward a very severe recession,” Connick says.
“The regulatory reform that we need to do is going to be the last step to fixing this problem.”
But even with the EPA’s efforts, there’s a problem.
In addition to the regulatory framework, there are plenty of regulatory loopholes that could make it harder to regulate companies that don’t pay their fair share.
The rules that would help the industry would also make it easier for the agency to use the regulatory authority it wields to impose costly fines.
As Connick puts it, “We need to make sure that the rules that are passed are actually enforced.”
That’s why Connick is joining a coalition of more than 40 energy and environmental organizations to fight for a regulatory reform bill.
The bill, the American Energy Alliance, would remove the EPA from its current role of “regulation and enforcement,” which it has held since the 1970s.
Under the current rules, the EPA has the power to impose fines up to $50,000 per violation.
This bill would give the agency the power of enforcement without requiring the agency’s approval for any fine or penalty.
Under current law, the agency is charged with enforcing the law through a process known as “compliance review.”
The bill would end compliance review and create a new “compliance enforcement mechanism” called “compliance oversight.”
The new mechanism would ensure that the agency was not allowing companies to use their regulatory power without doing their due diligence to ensure that their actions would not harm the environment or consumers.
“This bill is an important step toward addressing the issues of pollution, of environmental quality, of pollution in the energy sector,” says Dan Riffle, a partner at the New York law firm Greenberg Traurig who helped draft the bill.
“I’m a firm believer that the federal government has a role in the economy, in the environment and in the public interest.”
The American Energy Coalition also supports the legislation as a way to address climate change.
“There is no doubt that the energy industry and our economy are going to need a regulatory regime that protects the environment, the public health, and the economy,” says Connick.
“If we want to avoid a catastrophe like the BP disaster, we need a regime that takes care of all these issues at once.”
For more on this story, read our primer on the environmental, energy and climate risks facing the US economy.
In the meantime, Connick thinks that the bill is the right way to go.
“What I would hope is that we don’t have a situation where the EPA will be looking at oil and coal companies, and instead, they will be focused on how to protect the environment,” he says.
Connick also believes that the government needs to make some changes to the way that the Environmental Protection Agency deals with environmental issues.
For example, he says, “the EPA has been focusing on what they call the ‘green economy,’ and that is a way for companies to pay a lower environmental impact fee that allows them to do things like get their cars or appliances cleaner, but the problem with this is that it’s been doing very little environmental research.”
Connell says that the proposed bill would help ensure that companies are not “going to get away with a lot more than the EPA does.”
Conneck’s bill also aims to reform environmental protections in the Clean Air Act.
The Clean Air Acts, which were passed by Congress in 1970, have been the cornerstone of environmental regulations in the U.S. The act requires that emissions limits and air quality standards be imposed and enforced in order to protect people, the environment.
In Connick’s proposed bill, it would be expanded to include greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and vehicles.
Connell is also concerned about the impact that the