Saturday, January 19, 2008

EPA allergic to the sun

Invoking executive privilege, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday refused to provide lawmakers with a full explanation of why it rejected California's greenhouse gas regulations.

The EPA informed Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that many of the documents she had requested contained internal deliberations or attorney-client communications that would not be shared now with Congress.

"EPA is concerned about the chilling effect that would occur if agency employees believed their frank and honest opinions and analysis expressed as part of assessing California's waiver request were to be disclosed in a broad setting," EPA's associate administrator Christopher P. Bliley wrote.

Who writes the laws the EPA (purportedly) enforces? Congress. As an administrative agency, with the ability to promulgate rules intended to carry out Congress' intent, the EPA is in part an extension of the Congress. Delegating rulemaking power to agencies is controversial. When it goes too far, many think this sort of thing is a Bad Idea:
Since the New Deal, Congress has ceded more and more of its legislative authority to executive branch agencies. This delegation of lawmaking power is ill advised and illegitimate, for several reasons:

* Delegation violates the Constitution, subverting the central structural principle of that document: the separation of powers.

* Delegation severs the people from the law, undermining democracy by allowing vitally important decisions of governance to be made by unelected, unaccountable officials.

* Delegation is a political shell game, allowing legislators to simultaneously support the benefits and oppose the costs of regulation.

* Most importantly, by allowing those who enforce the law to make the law as well, delegation subjects the lives, liberty and property of Americans to arbitrary rule.

So what wild-eyed big-gummint liberal wrote that?

The director of Natural Resource Studies at... the Cato Institute. In 1996.

Boiled down to a Hollywood script pitch level, the situation is this: Congress passes law; Congress grants agency power to enforce law; agency asserts Congress has no right to inquire as to how agency enforces law.

If chutzpah was an energy source, oil would now be at $10 a barrel.


Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

I did a post about this issue on my blog a while back. For about a day, I was thrilled that the Federal Government passed the new laws about emissions and such. Then the ruling came nullifying California's law. I felt like such a sucker! And that hasn't happened for a while. Still, for that brief moment, I was happy, and even a little hopeful. It was a good feeling I hope to experience again sometime in early 2009.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

Incidentally, and completely unrelated - I was sorry to see Dennis drop out. I think Edwards' spot at the podium was always safe so long as Dennis was there to be excluded. Now Edwards' is all alone out there as the "crazy" one.

2:16 PM  

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