The current Congress has abandoned its legislative and oversight responsibilities as established by constitutional separation of powers protections in allowing unelected executive branch agency officials to impose de facto laws through regulatory fiat. None is more extreme in such authority overreach than the EPA.
EPA’s congressional circumvention actions under the Obama administration are becoming more and more extreme at a faster and faster pace. Much of this applies junk-science arguments that mischaracterize human CO2 emissions as a deleterious climate-changing “pollutant” under auspices of its Clean Air Act.
Although attempted by former Senator Baucus, D-Mont., and other Democrats during the course of 1990 House-Senate Conference Committee on Clean Air Act Amendment proceedings, Congress has never authorized EPA to regulate CO2 or other so-called “greenhouse gases” (GHGs) for climate change purposes.
The failed effort at that time was to adopt language requiring EPA to set CO2 emission standards for motor vehicles. Baucus was also defeated in subsequent proposals to adopt GHG emission reduction as a national goal, or to require EPA to regulate manufactured substances based upon their “global warming potential.”
Even though any evidence that CO2 or other GHGs had any real impacts upon public health or welfare endangerment was totally lacking, a narrow 2007 Supreme Court 5-4 decision gave the agency long-awaited authority to regulate CO2 emissions from new cars under its Clean Air Act. Although the ruling did not require EPA to regulate emissions, and was specifically limited to address vehicles, it did pave the way for expansionary developments that followed.
Then on December 7, 2009, then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed two distinct findings that extended its reach. One was an “Endangerment Finding” which found that current and projected atmospheric concentrations of six greenhouse gases (including CO2) “threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations.” It was based upon alarmist U.N.-IPCC projections which were refuted at that time by EPA’s own “Internal Study on Climate” report conclusions.
A second “Cause or Contribute Finding” found that “combined emissions of well-mixed GHGs from new motor vehicles engines contribute to greenhouse gas pollution which threatens public health and welfare.”
In 2010 the EPA expanded its regulatory reach beyond mobile emissions to include control of GHGs from stationary sources as well. Under rules of its “Prevention and Significant Deterioration” (PSD) program, a central target in the Obama administration’s all-out war on fossil fuels is the coal industry. The real casualties of that war will be businesses, jobs, and household energy budgets, with few if any public health benefits.
As noted by my friend H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA): “The EPA is in the process of codifying a whole slate of new air quality rules, the sheer number and economic impact of which have not been seen at any time in the EPA’s history.” Included are new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for ozone, mercury, and other substances along with greenhouse gases which he predicts “will have an unprecedented negative impact on the U.S. economy.”
When combined with other restrictions on coal ash and cooling water that EPA is planning, the impacts will be far-reaching. Credit Suisse in estimates that the MATS rule alone could lead to closure of nearly 18 percent of the nation’s coal-fired generating capacity and cost the industry $100 billion by 2017. An analysis by the United Mine Workers union concluded that this plan, along with other EPA regulations, could put as many as 250,000 jobs at risk.
An April Supreme Court 6-2 decision provides even greater latitude for EPA’s runaway legislation-by-regulation zeal. This ruling overturned a D.C. Circuit appellate panel and revived the EPA’s 2011 cross-state pollution rule. The EPA’s primary target is Texas and other states that have large coal-fired plants.
The latest Supreme Court decision is but one more reminder that we are living in an era of an ever-expanding state of government agency control. As Justice Scalia wrote in minority dissenting opinion: “Too many important decisions of the federal government are made nowadays by unelected agency officials exercising broad lawmaking authority, rather than by people’s representatives in Congress.”
Unfortunately, if Congress allows these circumstances continue, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Additional EPA restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, tougher water guidelines, and tightening of the ozone standard will continue to drive up pump prices, impose construction bans on local communities, and cripple oil, natural gas, and coal production.
How long will this trend continue? All of us, including Democrats who persist in pushing current anti-fossil, business-hobbling Obama administration policies, are likely to find out during critically important congressional elections later this year.
Larry Bell is a professor and endowed professor at the University of Houston, where he directs the Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and heads the graduate program in space architecture. He is author of “Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax,” and his professional aerospace work has been featured on the History Channel and the Discovery Channel-Canada. Read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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