The New American reported yesterday on the effort by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to seize power to garnish taxpayer wages without a court order. The same day, three Republican senators, including a member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, stood up to stop the abuse.
In an e-mail sent to this reporter shortly after his earlier article was published, Senators David Vitter (R-La.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) announced they had sent a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In the July 10 letter, the senators request that the agency withdraw its direct final rule on administrative wage garnishment, which would allow the EPA to deny citizens their due process rights by collecting money without first obtaining a court order.
“While we recognize the government’s legitimate interest in efficiently and effectively pursuing delinquent debt, EPA’s new wage garnishment procedures provide an agency prone to regulatory abuses with even more power over Americans. Individuals who face threats of ruinous fines from the agency may now have to think twice before challenging EPA over its regulatory jurisdiction,” wrote the senators.
“Given the agency’s repeated failure to manage its own personnel, it makes little sense for EPA to have the authority to garnish wages of private citizens without a court order, when the agency is apparently unable to properly oversee wage payments to its own employees or otherwise restrict the distribution of unearned pension benefits,” they added.
“It’s ironic that as we were preparing to celebrate Independence Day and our freedoms, the EPA was quietly seeking another way to take away some of those freedoms,” said Enzi in a press release about the letter he and two of his colleagues signed. “I appreciate Senator Vitter’s leadership in the effort to rein in this abuse.”
Senator Enzi’s reference to Independence Day is particularly apropos, as one of the royal abuses of power in the “long train” listed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence seems to accurately describe the EPA’s autocratic agenda.
"He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance,” Jefferson wrote.
There is little argument that under the authority granted itself in the proposed regulation, the EPA will consume millions of dollars from citizens accused of harming the environment. Should the alleged polluter receive the EPA’s permission to challenge the fine, the judge in the case will be someone chosen by the EPA.
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