EPA’s new superpower: Wage garnishment without due process
**Promoted from the diaries. – Aaron**
The same EPA that brought you Climate Change Gone Wild, Felonious Follies, and the classic Poops In The Hall, now offers a convenient automatic payment option: wage garnishment without a court order. That’s right, they can accuse you, cite you, fine you, and collect, all without the muss and fuss of Due Process Under Law.
That’s if they get their way. An innocuous Federal Register posting on July 2 becomes a “final rule” to allow the EPA to collect “non-tax debt” through a 1996 law called the Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA). This law makes the Treasury Department the federal government’s debt collector for any agencies who choose to use it.
Reported by Fox News:
“Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG) would apply only after EPA attempts to collect delinquent debts and after Treasury attempts to collect delinquent debts through other means,” the spokeswoman told FoxNews.com. The spokeswoman added that the agency would provide notice “prior to any action,” giving the debtor the opportunity to “review, contest or enter into a repayment agreement.”
The Heritage Foundation took umbrage at the EPA’s one-sided implementation:
When one reads regulations’ fine print that opportunity is not so encouraging. Under EPA’s proposed system, the agency gets to unilaterally decide whether there is an oral hearing or whether it will decide the case based on the paper record. If there is an oral hearing, EPA has unbridled discretion to choose where. So, if you are from Alaska for example, the EPA could decide the oral hearing for your alleged violations will be in Washington DC. Tough luck.
Also, according to EPA’s proposed system, when you arrive your hearing official will be someone picked by the very agency that has sought to impose the fine. EPA gets to designate any individual the agency considers “qualified” for that job. Could EPA’s view of “qualified” include the official who imposed the fines in the first place? Who knows? Finally the standards basically put the burden of proving one’s self innocent on the citizen. While most see this as ridiculously stacked, this is the EPA’s notion of“adopting hearing procedures that … provide due process.”
Given the EPA’s penchant for ignoring Constitutional and Congressional limits, we should all be casting a very jaundiced eye toward giving them the power to reach into our bank accounts and paychecks for any reason.
Per the Federal Register announcement, we have a few weeks in which to provide “adverse comments”:
This direct final rule is effective September 2, 2014 without further notice unless EPA receives adverse comments by August 1, 2014. If EPA receives such comments, it will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register and inform the public that the rule will not take effect.
I think we should flood Ms. Anita Jones email account with “hell no!” comments, along with emails to our members of Congress and Senators. Here’s her contact information.
FPPS c/o Anita Jones, OCFO/OFM/FPPS, Mailcode 2733R, Environmental Protection Agency, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 564-4969; fax number: (202) 565-2585; email address: email@example.com.
If there’s any agency nobody should ever trust with unbridled power, it’s today’s EPA. Stop this.