Rep. Austin Scott Warns The EPA Employs ‘Gestapo Tactics’ In Enforcing Lead Paint Regulations

Freshman Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) took GOP EPA-bashing to another level Wednesday when he accused the environmental agency of using “Gestapo tactics” in its dealings with a landlord who used lead-based paint on his property, but failed to obtain his tenants’ consent:

Freshman Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) was angered by a story he heard in his district last week. The constituent, who owns five rental properties, was fined $10,000 by EPA for each property for failing to have his tenants sign lead-based paint disclosure forms.

Scott might be thinking about the agency’s threat to triple those fines if he’s faced with a vote on rolling back EPA’s climate regulations.

“They told him essentially that if he wanted to argue with them that they’d fine him $30,000 per house,” Scott said yesterday. “Those are Gestapo tactics.”

While such rhetoric is outlandish, the underlying beliefs are increasingly common among hard-right conservatives. Eliminating the EPA has become a favorite target for some on the right, including GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, along with Reps. Joe Walsh (R-IL), Pete Olson (R-TX), and Rich Nugent (R-FL).


Many other conservatives want to drastically reduce the EPA’s ability to protect the environment. Last month, 236 Republicans and 13 Democrats voted for legislation that would effectively prevent any effort “to implement, administer, or enforce any statutory or regulatory requirement pertaining to emissions of greenhouse gases.” Despite this, conservative efforts to undermine the EPA are deeply unpopular with the American public, according to recent surveys:

Two of every three Americans oppose Gingrich’s plan to abolish the EPA.

63 percent of Americans across party lines “want the government to be doing more than it’s currently doing” to hold polluters accountable.

– Nearly seven in 10 “believe that EPA scientists, rather than Congress, should set pollution standards.”

To be fair, Scott is not the first politician to see similarities between the EPA and Nazis. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay once called the Agency “the Gestapo of Government.” More recently, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) deemed the EPA a “Gestapo bureaucracy” (and compared then-Administrator Carol Browner to Tokyo Rose).

CAPAF Intern Cody McClelland