The term "adversarial relationship" cannot be better characterized than by the summary view of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contempt for the private sector. That is a major thesis of the new book Out of Bounds Out of Control by James V. DeLong, which provides detailed evidence of dangers faced by Americans, spawned from EPA interpretations of law and enforcement of their distortions of "the rule of law." This phrase means that government must be bound by fixed, pre-announced rules making it possible to foresee how authority will use coercive powers of enforcement. EPA policy does not comport with the rule of law and has bred "regulatory zealotry and a disregard for the rights of the regulated." As DeLong shows with examples, EPA has become an entrenched menace disinterested in reform while claiming freedom from bias.
The 27 volumes of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations cover the formal rules that EPA applies to 1.4 million U.S. core and 6.5 million other facilities it regulates to control handling, emissions and disposal of pollutants derived from air stationary and mobile sources, drinking and treated waste water processing to toxic and hazardous waste materials management. Part of EPA adheres to a compliance philosophy using public education. But the harsh enforcement model seems to prevail because the usual bureaucrat regards the private sector as darkly motivated, to maximize profits, to break rules and to lie in every expression to avoid compliance with the forces of good represented by the stewardship of the EPA protectors. The overwhelming approach in enforcement actions is that moral turpitude among business is pervasively evident and that only severe penalties will assure that a clean earth endures. Quite frankly, EPA bureaucrats tend to be less informed about the private sector and business practices specifically than other agencies' people and more inclined to be holier-than-thou. This generalism and my limited personal observation is supported by DeLong's study and is supplemented by experiences reported from many readers of this journal.