This would be kind of funny, if it weren't terrible. The Daily Caller claimed on Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency is going to have to hire 230,000 new employees just to put new climate rules in place. And then others, including Fox News, repeated it, as Media Matters highlights today.
The problem is not only the fact that the number is, uh, inconceivable, given that the EPA currently only employs 17,000 people. But the story actually managed to pull that number from a court filing about what the EPA is trying to avoid. In the court filing, the EPA is defending its rule that would only limit emissions from the largest sources of greenhouse gases. The so-called "tailoring rule" is designed to reduce the regulatory burden that setting rules for all emission sources could create, the EPA argues. As the EPA explained in its brief, without that rule:
Sources needing operating permits would jump from 14,700 to 6.1 million as a result of application of Title V to greenhouse gases, a 400-fold increase. … Hiring the 230,000 full-time employees necessary to produce the 1.4 billion work hours required to address the actual increase in permitting functions would result in an increase in the Title V administration costs of $21 billion per year.
The sick twist, of course, is that the EPA is filing this brief because a bunch of polluters have sued the agency to stop the tailoring rule. The polluters and allies claim that the EPA doesn't have the authority to adjust the Clean Air Act in this way—which is somewhat ironic, given that the change would have the effect of weakening the global warming regulations that these same companies dislike so much. (Some enviros have sued as well, though they argue that the EPA should be going farther in its regulations.)
If the challengers are successful in getting the court to throw out the tailoring rule, the EPA would have to start going after all sources of emissions—creating exactly the kind of unmanageable regulatory burden that the EPA's brief warns of. Only then would the Daily Caller and Fox News have the crazy bureaucratic nightmare that they're currently (and falsely) ginning up fears about.