Friday, September 23, 2011

Mike Cantrell: 'Regulation Gone Amok'

Thirty years ago, Stroud businessman John Cassidy warned about the escalating “artificial cost of production.” Cassidy said the cost of regulation was a cost that produced no financial benefit and would eventually make America noncompetitive with the rest of the world.

The recent actions of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in North Dakota are a glaring example of regulation gone amok. We all want to protect wildlife. This agency spent 45 days searching for dead birds in lined reserve pits used in drilling in North Dakota. This exhaustive investigation uncovered 28 dead birds. Their actions, used in conjunction with the hammer of the U.S. Department of Justice, puts an exclamation point after Cassidy's fear of the escalating “artificial cost of regulation in America.”

These weren't bald eagles or any other endangered species. Hunters and windshields in North Dakota kill thousands of them each season. The maximum penalty per dead bird is a $15,000 fine and six months in jail (the annual equivalent of five high-paying jobs in the oil patch). Doesn't this exceed the bounds of common sense of almost any American?

To make this action even more egregious, it was announced in a news conference before even notifying the seven companies allegedly in violation. It's probably just a coincidence that this news conference was one day after one of the most positive shows on American energy ever, with Jim Cramer of CNBC's Mad Money” visited the Bakken oil boom in North Dakota, where he proclaimed that we can drill our way to energy independence.

It's also a coincidence that the U.S. attorney who spent three months in pursuit of this massacre of 28 of our feathered friends is the only U.S. attorney in history to be appointed while serving on the Democratic National Committee. Doesn't seem too fair and impartial does it?

We can only hope that the worst recession since the Great Depression, along with examples of extreme regulatory abuse like this incident, will prompt Congress to take action to stop the regulatory lunacy that cost taxpayers over $1.75 trillion per year. And that's the number in 2008 before President Barack Obama came to office and increased the Environmental Protection Agency's budget alone by 34 percent in the 2010 budget.

The Obama administration has imposed 75 new major regulations resulting in a net increase of $38 billion in cost to the private sector. This cost is passed on to consumers through higher prices for almost everything we buy.

If Congress doesn't take action to stop this downgrading of American competitiveness, the America we all treasure as a land of opportunity will simply become a footnote in the history books for future generations to admire and wonder why you would destroy something as wonderful as that.

Longtime energy expert Mike Cantrell of Ada is president of Domestic Energy Producers Alliance.

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