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Keeping EPA out of your pockets



As if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overreach is not bad enough, the agency is trying to more directly reach into the pockets of Americans. Enough is enough. These oppressive tactics must be stopped. 

In recent months, the EPA has attempted to quietly claim it has the authority to unilaterally garnish wages of individuals who have been accused of violating its rules. This summer, the agency issued a direct final rule, allowing the EPA to garnish—without first obtaining a court order — up to 15 percent of an individual’s personal wages for the collection of non-tax debts.  

Even more alarming, the agency signaled that the policy shift was not subject to review because it was not considered a “significant regulatory action.” After receiving much pushback from many of us in Congress, the EPA rescinded the final rule temporarily, vowing to instead proceed with the proposal through a more traditional rulemaking process. 

The agency’s newly claimed authority would not only give the EPA unchecked discretion over the process of challenging fines, but also provide an agency prone to regulatory abuses with even more power over individual Americans. For instance, in a January compliance order issued by the EPA, Andy Johnson of Wyoming was threatened with up to $75,000 in fines per day for building a pond on his private property. Unfortunately, this type of regulatory aggression will only increase as the EPA moves to assert even greater control over Americans’ lives through rulemakings like the proposed grabbing of jurisdiction over all waters of the United States in direct violation of its statutory authority and new regulations targeting our nation’s energy industries.

In response to stories like these and EPA’s continued aggressive overreach, I have joined eleven of my Senate colleagues in introducing S. 2809 to prohibit the agency from garnishing the wages of Americans without first obtaining a court order. 

Idahoans are rightfully concerned about abusive federal overreach.  I share that concern and am very much aware that this alarming trend is not limited to our environment and land management agencies. Whether it is the Internal Revenue Service targeting organizations based on political beliefs or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau collecting and storing data on consumers’ financial transactions, I have opposed and continue to fight these unnecessary abuses and intrusions into the lives and privacy of ordinary citizens. 

Overregulation is not smart policy. We must get rid of the layers of bureaucracy and overregulation that are overly intrusive and hinder economic progress. Stopping the EPA from garnishing the wages of Americans is a step in the right direction.



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