Concerns over the recent 87,000 Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including the additions to its ranks armed agents, have rekindled debate about the necessity of having armed agents within certain departments of the federal bureaucracy.
Indeed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Postal Service, Social Security Administration, National Oceanic, and Atmospheric Administration, and countless other federal agencies also have police divisions.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is another agency that should not be militarized, as I argue.
Although this is not a partisan issue it is important to note that Democratic administrations allow the EPA more flexibility to use their growing power. Under the Reagan administration, Congress allowed the EPA to exercise military-like powers. In 2015, it was revealed that the EPA spent nearly $75 million annually to equip its 200 special armed agents with “military-style weaponry”, drones, amphibious assault cars, night-vision equipment, and other equipment.
It’s not going to go to waste, but don’t be discouraged. EPA agents seem to love any chance to use their cool gear at We The People.
For example, in 2015, residents of Chicken, Alaska, woke up to their town and local gold mine being swarmed by armed officers in full body armor and “POLICE” jackets. They quickly learned that these men were with the EPA, and they were being raided due to an allegation that the mine was potentially violating the Clean Water Act.
Locals and the Alaskan government were furious at the EPA’s intimidation tactics, as well as their frightening aggression that day.
In 2012, EPA agents knocked at Larry Keller’s door. They had previously sent a brief email to Al Armendariz, then the regional administrator of the EPA, three years prior. “Hello, Mr. Gray-Does Mr. Armendariz have my contact information?” -Regards-Larry Keller.”
Keller wanted to question Armendariz regarding the administrator’s inflammatory statements about the oil-and-gas industry. He had stated that his enforcement goals were “crucify” executives.
Keller was confronted by local police and armed agents. They refused to give them their business cards and interrogated Keller about the purpose of his email.
These abuses continued after President Obama left the White House. Shortly before Trump’s departure, the December 2020 National Compliance Initiative: Ending Aftermarket Defeat Devices For Vehicles and Engines was completed, the EPA announced that it would be cracking down on private shops that modify vehicles.
Unannounced in July 2021, Lund Racing’s auto-tuning shop, West Chester, Pennsylvania, was raided by armed and armored agents. Other shops across the country were also raided, and some were fined for not following regulations that were so vague and fickle that Congress had to adopt the RPM Act in order to protect competition vehicles against the EPA’s wrath. This is despite the fact race cars are exempted from the Clean Air Act.
These examples are a reminder of how heavy-handed a bunch of self-righteous bureaucrats can and will impose on average Americans in order to enforce regulations that, largely, have not been voted on by Congress. This is especially dangerous because agencies such as the EPA are not held responsible for their own misconduct. This encourages the perception that they are above the law.
How about the time the EPA dumped heavy metals into a major river system and nobody at the agency was fired? A private person or company could be held responsible for causing this kind of pollution.
If the EPA can regulate your individual carbon dioxide and methane emissions or your use of nitrogen fertilizer in your garden, they are allowed to use their militarized units on you to enforce their edicts, intimidate, and intimidate.
Fortunately, West Virginia v. EPA was ruled by the Supreme Court that the EPA had exceeded its authority to regulate carbon dioxide from state power plants. This ruling will hopefully serve as a precedent and prevent any further regulatory tyranny in this area.
It is best to at least demilitarize administrative agencies.
In a prophetic speech in 1997 about the militarization of government administrative agencies, Ron Paul, a former congressman, wisely stated that “Yes, gun control is necessary.” It is time to disarm bureaucrats and then eliminate the agencies. Let government bureaucrats who like guns so much seek employment with the NRA.
Linnea Lueken ([email protected]) is a Research Fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.