By Steven W. Anderson
Other recent Supreme Court decisions have garnered a lot of attention, but the EPA ruling may be the one that protects your wallet. The June 30th decision restores the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches of government. The ruling slows politically appointed agency administrators from moving forward with free market crushing agendas.
Most media coverage fixated on the question of regulating power plant emissions and fighting climate change and lopsidedly focusing on the hampering of the Biden climate agenda. However, the more important finding is that government agencies like the EPA cannot write regulations that the court held to be “overly expansive” going beyond the scope of its responsibility and authority granted by Congress.
Biden has used a concept of “the whole of government” (all agencies in the executive branch) to focus on issues they see as important. Appropriately, the court referenced another executive branch agency’s over-reach when OSHA attempted to require a vaccine-or-test mandate.
The EPA ruling may also stop the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from going well beyond their mission by trying to regulate the environment by requiring companies to not only conduct specific and detailed carbon accounting, which is onerous and costly, but also to calculate the emissions by the company’s suppliers and customers! It appears that even some of the commissioners thought this was a stretch.
Meanwhile, many of the world’s largest economies are increasing coal purchases as they attempt to work around Russian gas supply constraints. Additionally, free markets can solve problems without overly complex, business destroying, government-imposed regulations.
A trade group called America’s Power, a party to the EPA litigation, was pleased with the court’s ruling – their statement read in part, “Coal-fired power plants provide affordable and reliable electricity.” Indeed, grid reliability is critical and is already challenged on occasion. Biden, it would seem, should work with power generators of all types as inflation is at a 40-year high. Cooperation seems prudent especially with industries that provide affordable energy.
Now is the time for the Biden Administration to pivot like the European Union which just moved to declare natural gas and nuclear power as “green.” A change of course could help meet objectives set by Biden to be carbon neutral by 2050. China alone produces twice the carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels than the United States, so thinking globally while acting locally is a lofty goal and regulating our companies to death is shortsighted.
The rigid approach of pursuing a limit to carbon emissions by the power of the administrative state, is fear based. Labeling carbon a “climate crisis” or regulating to achieve “environmental justice” may appeal to Biden’s base. However, the heavy hand of excessive regulation is not only costly, but also is appropriately subject to legal review. Hopefully, the significance of the Supreme Court’s ruling is reflected upon at the White House.
Steven W. Anderson is an AMAC Action Delegate. He retired after 30 years as a park ranger and land manager with several Department of the Interior Agencies. He and his wife also owned and operated two espresso businesses in Oregon.