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Is the EPA regulating too much?

The Environmental Protection Agency has become a flashpoint for Republican presidential candidates and small-government enthusiasts, with some even calling for abolishing the agency.  This frustration comes from a sense that the EPA is not taking into account the impact its regulations are having on job creation and U.S. global competitiveness.  And, in tough economic times, this argument is proving to be a powerful one.

To explore this view of the EPA further, Need to Know host Ray Suarez talked with Tea Party activist Matt Kibbe.  Kibbe is the president and CEO of FreedomWorks, an organization that mobilizes “volunteer activists to fight for less government, lower taxes, and more freedom.”  He is also the co-author, with Dick Armey, of The New York Times bestseller “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto.”

Toxic law? Chemical pollution and the EPA
Poll: The role of the EPA

Watch the rest of the segments from this episode.

  • Differing views on fracking's impact
    Studies conducted on the counties above the Marcellus and Barnett Shale for example — where extensive drilling has already taken place — present mixed economic results.
  • thumb
    Too much solar energy?
    The proliferation of privately owned solar has large power companies in Germany worried.
  • thumb
    Nominee has industry ties
    Energy secretary nominee had deep connections to industry, including as a paid adviser to BP until 2011.


  • Todd Clay

    The EPA is absolutely essential.  We cannot look at everything as a transaction and it’s price.  If we fall behind or fail to launch a new product and the result is that we get scooped by another country but that country ends up killing their fish population or causing sterility among their people or some other horrible result like 10% of the population ending up under hospital care for the remainder of their lives; who has really paid the price?  I’d much rather be down a few jobs or even an entire industry if it provides us with cleaner water, better air and doesn’t cause one human to suffer.

  • Anonymous

    Matt Kibbe speaks for Freedom Works, a Koch Industries front group.  Koch Industries is a leading oil producing company, and the Koch brothers are big-time anti-regulatory propagandists.  Their morality is all about profits, the hell with the environment.  The Koch brothers are super-rich.  Of course, “we” need the EPA, it regulates in the public interest. 

  • Jeffpian

    I want not want to live in this country without the EPA.  I am a firm believer in regultations.  They have come about out of necessity.  They make our quality of life better and protect us.  Without regulation we would live in a society of unbridled greed, exploitation, and we sould not be as safe as we are.  I would like to see more regulation and would not want to live in a society without it.  We must be wary of those trying to undo regulations.  We will only slide backwards. 

  • Lorenz

    I live in a community much like Endicott, with three Superfund sites.  EPA is trying to help but needs more – not less – regulatory power.  Regulations aren’t the problem, economic actors – profiteers - who transfer risks and proper waste processing from themselves to citizens and the natural world are the problem.  Our local polluter escapted with hundreds of millions in profits and the first owner became a “great” philanthropist.  Now the remnant company filed for bankruptcy and the tax payers (mostly that means our children and grand children) are going to pay the hundreds of millions to clean the wastes.  A myth voiced by one of your speakers is that “if they would have known” they wouldn’t have done it.  From the first year the local polluter opened – in 1935 – a down river city council unanimously asked the state (we had no EpA then) to shut the company down.  Despite this, the company operated, made huge profits, and left town with no negative consequences.   Ed Lorenz, Pine River Superfund Task Force, Michigan

  • mld

    my first reaction after seeing this on tv… i am 60 yrs old – in my time in small town rowayton, conn. there was only 1 child with diabetes… how many today – i remember when the mussels were tainted (3 mile river)… nobody had asthma. the mussels got cleaned up—don’t know if they are still today… but people took active measures in those times. we are living in a time when the past is catching up with us—maybe we didn’t know how harmful the chemicals were—but today we have no excuse… using the “economy” as an excuse not to take adequate safety measures is in my mind criminal

  • John Doe

    Where do you stand on the EPA?

    The EPA should issue more regulations. (54%, 13 Votes)We should get rid of the EPA altogether. (38%, 9 Votes)The EPA should issue fewer regulations. (8%, 2 Votes)
    Show this poll to Mr. Kibbe

    Have Mr. Kibbe add some TCE to his next glass of water.
    I worked with TCE in my work-study job in college… breathed its vapors, held our shirts over our noses while we had to use it…

    My entire 2-years of earnings from my $2 per hour work-study wage would pay for about 1 cancer treatment today.

    The TEA Party represents the absolute WORST lunatic-fringe of the United States of America…

    We should be more worried about the TEA Party than al Qaeda!

  • Green Engineer

    I am an environmental engineer who has worked in the business of remediating contaminated soil and groundwater for about 30 years.  I am generally disheartened by the lack of protection of human health and the environment.  We need way more regulation and way more surveillance.  Most chemicals are not even analyzed for at sites.  There are so many unknowns that could be known.  Chemicals should be assumed guilty until proven innocent instead of the cowboy approach of releasing almost anything you want into the environment and subjecting all organisms on earth to a giant uncontrolled experiment.  The argument that it will hurt business has no legs.  It is far more devastating financially and otherwise for people to have to deal with sickness, disability, and death due to chemical contamination. 

  • Anonymous

    To characterize Freedom Works as “anti-regulation” is less accurate than if the Koch-funded front group were called “pro-pollution, pro-profits.” 

    The Kochs have destroyed the environment and subjected Americans to deadly chemical exposure from North Pole Alaska (Flint Hills refinery groundwater contamination),to Alberta, Canada’s tar sands (massive air pollution), to Rosemont, Minnesota, (Flint Hills Resources spills), to Houston, Texas (benezene releases).  Thanks to massive campaign contribuitons, they have suffered little consequences for their

    They are the prime financial supporters of the Tea Party, their pretend “grassroots” movement.

  • Anonymous

    Ray, you were lax in your questioning of Matt Kibbe.  He avoided direct answers to several questions and you (apparently) didn’t drill down deeper on shallow answers or follow up on misdirects.

  • Liz

    Wow-Ray…I was disappointed by your questions to Mr. Kibbe-such as What would he consider an acceptable cost-benefit for a regulation? (How many people should die for corporate profits?) and instead of letting him get away with the “many” unnecessary regulations, how about asking for a few examples? You had a specific case in point with TCE and an empty counter point, in my opinion….disappointing interview! 

  • Megsul

    Look back at the times before the EPA and environmental law existed–the Cuyahoga River at the mouth near Lake Erie caught on fire because of the extensive pollution from industry that was dumped directly into the river.  In the past 40 years because of environmental regulation implemented by EPA, the Cuyahoga River is now much cleaner, though it is still a federally-designated Area of Concern due to contamination of the sediments from historic industry.  To think that industry will self-regulate because it is in the public’s best interest is ridiculous, particularly with the issue of contaminants because the public does not understand the potential impacts and there are so many different subtances at issue.  Lack of protection of the environment is a classic example of tragedy of the commons.  It is in the public’s best interest to maintain a high quality of environment, for our own health, enjoyment, and well being, and that of our childen.  Yet in our capitalist society there is no profit to be made by keeping the environment clean.  No industry wants to take responsibility for ensuring that water, air, and land that we depend on for our life is clean.  That is why the government has assumed the responsibility.  We have learned from history what happens when no one is looking out for environmental quality, and we decided that was an unacceptable consequence.  To forget our history is to doom ourselves to repeat it.

  • darma2u

    FYI, being a retired Oncology Nurse, hate to tell you that your wages for that time, unless you have great insurance, wouldn’t come close to paying for an onc. treatment :-( .. On top of it treatment is no guarantee given its inherent risk, to include but not limited to, secondary infection and risk of secondary cancers. So I was thinking similarily to what you have posted, let Mr. Kibbe inhale the fumes, dust particles/(fine particulate), and  absorbed the residue through his skin, let a lone drink fluids or eat foods that have come in contact with this deadly chemical. Also given his ‘moral’ stand that implys we should just let all chemicals be in the market and let the market beware is a deadly thinking: Especially given how the Koch Brothers et al think and behave, we are so screwed. Mr. Kibbe sure makes it sound like any loss of life is an acceptale loss of life, because it comes down to the price of one human life verse profits, profits wins, this is not new thinking of people of his ilk. I remember the Love Canal, Thalidomide = birth defects in the 50′s-early 60′s (which was later used as an onc. treatment)  or Libby, Mt. Abestos, and what about this whole ‘fracking’ thing with tainted water? Or how about  (“…the Army Corps of Engineers from dumping dioxin-contaminated sediment in a suspect spot along the Saginaw River. The case is making its way through the federal courts right now.”
    From everything I’ve read the current thinking is to get rid of the EPA because it cost ‘them’ profits and “damed the people and their health”, and this thinking is supported because the TEA Party/Koch Brothers have been ‘smart enough to ’link’ the EPA with job losses and not job gains. Just shaking my head in the shame of it all.

  • darma2u

    Similar to , started about 1919 …There were warnings atin the 50′s if not earlier. “In Libby, 70 years of strip-mining an ore called “vermiculite” and marketed as the wonder material “Zonolite” exposed workers, their families and thousands of residents to a toxic form of asbestos, creating what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called the worst case of industrial poisoning of a whole community in American history.” …”That this poisoning continued for more than 30 years after W. R. Grace knew of the dangers.” “ But don’t weep only for Libby; an estimated 35 million homes in the U.S. contain Zonolite insulation.” 
    Michigan is considered one of the ‘most’ poluted states, the one that stick’s in my mind …”The Michigan PBB contamination incident…”all people who lived on the quarantined farms, people who received food from these farms and workers (and their families) engaged in PBB manufacture – as well as 725 people with low-level PBB exposure.”  This whole thing with EPA and them wanting to get rid of it makes me ill, it is like they/Tea Party/Koch Brothers, are trading on the flesh of people for a few dollars profit. disgusting.

  • Bob Walters

    The EPA is simply a luxury we can no longer afford.  EPA regulations are the primary reason for the lack luster economic recovery. It is unconscionable that working Americans would continue to operate a bureaucracy that is perpetuating misery for millions of Americans struggling at the brink of economic destitution.

  • Anonymous

    Great presentation.  

    Matt Kibbe made zero case for the Republican position.     As with the typical Republican position, the science and human devastation was ignored, instead he emphasized cost reduction, profits, and a job for as long as one remains healthy and alive……….if your unlucky enough to lose a few family members along the way, it’s just the cost of earning a living.     Again like all Republican positions on issues that involve human life, the implication is that humans are essentially ‘on their own’ when it comes to the after effects of industrial mistakes.  
    Kibbe’s basic (unstated) position seems to be that unless we have enough deaths and disabilities that are specifically attributed to a particular culprit, we should ignore both the lessons of the past and the implications of the present, and give the benefit of the doubt to capitalism.    The capitalist gets the rewards, and the laborer becomes a relatively insignificant casualty of an industrial mistake.

    In reality, society and the taxpayers pay a huge toll every time that we allow some corporation to foul our land, our air, or seas, or our water supply…………..and for decades, corporations have simply moved on or otherwise ‘white washed’ the damage, and ignored the costs that are left for others to pay.     Again the implication is that the ‘resources of nature’ are free for the pickings to the first person smart enough to rip them off from the rest of society;   and the unstated assumption is that nature will ‘flush’ itself.     The problem is that nature is not quite the automatic flush toilet that Kibbe, Army, and the Koch menagerie would have us believe.

    Dick Army should be ashamed (laughing all the way to the bank), and Matt Kibbe should be sent back home to ponder his implication that generations of employees and residents and children around captitalist enterprises should be treated as lab rats to help prove or disprove whether any given industrial process is toxic or not.    Let’s return to the policies of the past where by the time that the problem is discovered, the culprit is long gone.

    Die if you don’t have a job!    Die if you don’t have health care!     Die if your retirement savings are destroyed by an unregulated finanacial casino operation!    Die if you become sick or disabled!     These unstated Republican policies need to be called out on the streets of Dodge City.     The EPA needs more teeth, not less.

  • Otto Olivera

    Read the real facts about “FreedomWorks”, which is affiliated with the Koch Brothers-funded “Americans for Prosperity”, here:

  • Dale Lee Roark

    Abolish the EPS and Try the HIgher up enployees for crimes aginst the state.

  • Lafferty2121

    matt, whats good  if you dont know ?

  • Rookie

    It is not just the agency, but the regulators. The SEC and the rating agency both had mandates, but why the financial crisis happen. The regulators won’t doing their job.

    Since the EPA and FDA both supposedly here to protect the people. What is really needed and not likely to get is stop the switching from industry to government. Its hard to get good enforcement when the head of the FDA or EPA subdepartment is expecting a job in industry. Conflict of interest, its like asking a judge to rule against himself without any checks or balances. Good luck with that (sarcastism) 

  • Rider2100

    It would be nice if you could list a few examples of one or preferrably a few of the regulations the EPA is enforcing, which are causing the economy not being able to recover.  Any regulation that is causing businesses to struggle in this economy and hurting the common American. 

    I’m just asking because it would be helpful to understand the reasons and especifics behind the general idea of the EPA being a destructor of our economy. 

    Thanks for your input, and hope to really see a future post with examples of what fuels your opinions. 

  • nolamotion

    Kibbe’s all or nothing logic is totally flawed and the host should have challenged it. A very disappointing interview. This subject is the true test of the values of the tea party. They value the church of the mythical free market and the grace of money more than the value of a human life. I found Kibbe to be a disgusting shill and Suarez to be a patsy whose questions did not challenge the obvious fallacies in Kibbe’s paid-for statements.

  • jan

    This really made me angry.  Economic question?  Risk assessment?  Cost/benefit analysis talk coming from someone who is around to speak ONLY because he was lucky enough to survive cancer and was no doubt chosen to be spokesperson on that basis?  Are those unlucky enough not to survive to be considered as collateral damage in the effort to increase profits?  In other words; profits over people?  Someone whose organization is endorsed by Glenn Beck who jokes about poisoning people?  Outrageous.

  • Allenmuldoon

    Here are just a few for instances: 1). The oil spill in the Golf of Mexico., 2). The Nucular deteriation of the Long Island Nuciuler Plant. 3). The Ozone deteriation from the chemicals of Industrial Plants and freon spilt into our Air! If you need mor?! How about this? 4). Every Bomb that is dropped shakes the Earth from the outside to its Core! And every Oil cavern that is haft full or near empty collapses in on it self, helping to create the oceans falt line to shift creating an Earth Quake!
     And the EPA is suposed to regulate these things so they don’t happen. And so far they seam to be bought off from their Duties! It nice if they get back to doing their job!

  • Allenmuldoon

    I’m glad to see there is someone out there thinking in the right derrection!

  • Growth is not sustainable

    My bet is that he’d sacrific my kids for his job, but not his own.

  • Minditambellini

    The disconnect between the Tea Party’s philosophy of how things should work and realities of how the US economy actually functions is deeply disconcerting.  Mr. Kibbe argues for the innate accountability of corporations to create products that do not negatively impact human health.  This would be true if all supply chains were local, or even limited by state boundaries.  The prior story regarding IBM clearly illustrates the hypocrisy of this argument.  Consumers are rarely confronted with the destruction to the environment and to human health associated with their purchases.  Hiding the dark side of industry, denying accountability and pedaling influence have been cornerstones of our industrial society.  Matt Kibbe saying it should be different changes nothing.  It would have been good to hear Ray Saurez challenge him more.  Giving equal time to diverse perspectives does not mean refusing to ask difficult questions when confronted with arguments with no factual or practical basis.