Would five EPA commissioners be better than one EPA administrator?

Michael Giberson

Steven Hayward makes the unremarkable observation that the EPA is politicized followed by the somewhat surprising recommendation to fix things by adding more political appointees at the top! He recommends a five-person commission structure within which no more than three are of the same party affiliation, similar to the arrangement governing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other regulatory agencies.

Hayward explains, “The EPA’s single-administrator model … is based on what amounts to a conceit that some policy matters are beyond politics or meaningful controversy. This is the apotheosis of the Progressive Era ideal, or rather myth, of enlightened administration by neutral experts. It is also a tactic to deny that what are deeply political administrative decisions are in fact political.” As Hayward points out, a virtue of a multi-member commission over a single administrator is the opportunity for diverse points of view to be represented at the top and for minority views to get public airing.

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