Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is introducing his Climate Change Pre-emption bill, an initiative that would prevent the EPA and other such agencies from unilaterally regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without explicit Congressional Authorization.
The Supreme Court’s ill-advised decision in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (2007) gave the EPA a mandate to issue an “endangerment finding” on CO2 and related GHG. Since this finding was issued in December 2009, the EPA has expanded its influence by leaps and bounds, regulating everything from hospitals to cars based on their tenuous relation to man-made global warming. (Click here for ATR’s previous reports on this EPA power-grab.) The agency’s actions are both economically disastrous and a usurpation of congressional authority.
Sen. Barrasso’s legislation looks to put an end to runaway regulation dictating the nation’s energy and industry policy. It has four main goals:
1) To prevent the federal government from applying outdated environmental laws to climate-change issues.
2) To restore and preserve the role of the Congress as the most important body in determining U.S. climate and energy policy.
3) To forbid, in absence of explicit Congressional Authorization, federal regulation of GHG under the rubric of climate change. It would pre-empt possible applications of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, etc.
4) To preclude legal action against emitters of GHG based simply on their supposed contribution to climate change.
ATR supports Sen. Barrasso’s initiative, as it will rein in an area of federal expansion that has been too long left to its own devices to the detriment of the American economy and congressional prerogative.
Unfortunately, there are some lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are more than happy ceding their power to unelected bureaucrats: Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is dead-set on giving the government to them through the creation of yet another federal agency, the Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA). He has also supported the imposition of Clean/Renewable Energy Standards, which would constitute another massive interference with American industry. Bingaman’s proposed Energy Efficiency Enhancement Act seeks to dictate standards for common light-bulbs and appliances; as with all of these proposals, it smacks of more spending, bigger government, and an outdated, unscientific attachment to a radical “green” ideology. Each of these policies would put undo strain on an already fragile economy, while stretching the effects of the federal nanny-state into every American home. As far as Bingaman and his allies in the Senate are concerned, there is no appliance too small to warrant bigger government.
As ATR has covered, this attitude permeates the current administration. Given that control of congress will remain split for the next two years, neither Barrasso nor Bingaman are going to have an easy time getting their respective bills through; in the meantime, however, the Left will continue its dangerous regulatory game through its stranglehold on the executive branch.