EPA at 40 — Doing an End-Run Around the Legislative Process

The Environmental Protection Agency is 40 years old.  It came into being under a Republican president, Richard M. Nixon, and opened its offices on December 2, 1970.  In January of that year, Nixon had signed the National Environmental Protection Act, and on the last day of December 1970, he signed the Clean Air Act of 1970.

Fast forward to the year 2010, with an EPA now with almost limitless powers in the environmental arena — regulating greenhouse gas emissions, policing carbon dioxide as a pollutant, and expanding the purview of the Clean Air Act, without congressional approval.  As CEI’s Marlo Lewis wrote,

. . . EPA has positioned itself to determine the stringency of fuel economy standards for the auto industry, set climate policy for the nation, and even amend provisions of the Clean Air act–powers Congress never delegated to the agency. The Endangerment Rule is both trigger and precedent for sweeping policy changes Congress never approved. America could end up with a pile of greenhouse gas regulations more costly than any climate bill or treaty the Senate has declined to pass or ratify, yet without the people’s representatives ever voting on it.

Here’s more from a coalition letter trying to roll back these expanded powers:

Is climate policy to be made by the people’s representatives or by politically unaccountable bureaucrats, trial lawyers, and activist judges?

Only one answer to that question passes constitutional muster. EPA has no authority to do an end-run around the democratic process. Climate policy is too important to be made by an administrative agency without new and specific statutory guidance from Congress.

Republicans are now in control of the House, and with six additional seats in the Senate, they, working with moderate Democrats, should be able to pass legislation suspending or overturning EPA greenhouse gas regulations. We, the People, can “take back our government” only if our representatives stop administrative agencies from legislating.