Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Date: June 03, 2014

Small business owners are rightly concerned about broad effect the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations are having on their bottom lines. From farms to construction companies, the EPA’s reach is extending further into the operations of small business owners. In fact, a 2010 Small Business Administration study found that small businesses spend an average of 364 percent more per employee annually that larger firms. At a time when America is hoping for strong job growth to get our economy rolling again, the EPA needs to avoid saddling small business owners with overly-burdensome regulations.

Current Regulations on EPA’s Agenda

Definition of Waters of the U.S. Under the Clean Water Act  NPRM published 04/21/14

The EPA is aiming to expand the definition of U.S. waters that are “navigable” – in some cases, to even small depressions or farm ponds that do not impair the flow of rivers. Despite state jurisdiction, this rule could impose federal mandates for water quality levels in these local waters or land uses. What’s most troublesome is that the EPA will publish the proposed rule without doing required Regulatory Flexibility Act processes. EPA claims that the rule will have no significant impact on small businesses even though the rule will clearly restrict the ability of small businesses to expand or develop their land and decrease land value. For more information on this rule, please visit

Lead: Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule for Public and Commercial Buildings  Proposed Rule Stage

Following on its problematic Lead: RRP rule covering residential housing, the EPA is poised to expand the rule to cover commercial buildings. While the goal of the rule – protecting people from exposure to lead dust – is laudable, EPA has not yet issued a study or identified data that shows if lead dust from these buildings impact surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, EPA appears intent on adapting its residential rule for commercial buildings. NFIB is concerned about his approach because the residential rule is punitive mostly to companies that try to comply. About 35 percent of small employers, who operate their business outside of their house, own all or part of the building or land on which their business is located. These small businesses face higher costs as well.

Greenhouse Gas Emmisions; New and Existing Power Plants  Proposed and in Development at Agency     

EPA's efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions have started with coal and natural gas power plants. A first rule covering new plants was published in January 2014. A second, and likely more economically damaging, rule covering existing power plants is due to be proposed in the summer of 2014. NFIB is concerned about the rules' impact on affordable electricity, one of the most important costs a small business owner faces. NFIB submitted Comments to the EPA regarding standards of performance for greenhouse gas emissions from new plants.

Residential Wood Heaters — Proposed                                                                                     

The EPA has proposed stringent emissions limits on new wood stoves and other wood heaters. NFIB is concerned that the proposed rule would have significant consequences on residential wood heater manufacturers, which EPA estimates represent 90 percent of the industry. Specifically, the increased costs imposed on these small businesses due to new emissions limit mandates and testing procedures will hit the bottom line twice. The first way is in increased upfront costs to comply with the proposed rule. The second is that with a higher cost to retailers and consumers, demand for these heaters will drop – perhaps substantially. NFIB supports H.R. 4407, the Wood Stove Regulatory Relief Act of 2014. This legislation will provide important regulatory relief for manufacturers of residential wood heaters from the EPA’s recently proposed rules limiting emissions from new units. NFIB also submitted Comments to the EPA on Wood Heaters.

Scrap Metal (Definition of Solid Waste) — In Development

Scrap metal is regulated as a hazardous material unless it is recycled. Many scrap yards and other small businesses love to recycle scrap metal because of its high value. Despite the often responsible recycling of this material, the EPA is seeking to impose a significant new paperwork requirement on these small-business owners. Deep within the EPA’s proposed new Definition of Solid Waste rule, the agency wants to require scrap metal recyclers to prove – with written documentation – that the material is being recycled responsibly. The EPA also wants recyclers to maintain records of this proof, opening the door to inspections that uncover innocent paperwork mistakes made as long as five years in the past.

NFIB Testimony on EPA Issues in the 113th Congress

NFIB Small Business Legal Center Executive Director Karen Harned testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee of Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law on the Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act.

NFIB State Director Nicole Riley testified before the House Committee on Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law on Federal Regulations and Regulatory Reform. 

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