ST. GEORGE – The U.S. Supreme Court issued its judgment Monday finding the Environmental Portection Agency exceeded its authority when it expanded its regulatory reach by tailoring an expansive interpretation of an existing law. Utah senators Hatch and Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart applauded the decision with varying enthusiasm.
Sen. Orrin Hatch applauded the decision as standing up to President Obama’s “brazen overreach,” while Sen. Mike Lee said it shows that the judiciary will impose at least some limitations on the EPA’s powers. Rep. Chris Stewart said the ruling is a mixed bag but does reaffirm the importance of the nation’s system of checks and balances.
The case before the court was Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency. In the court’s decision, it held that the Clean Air Act does not compel or permit the EPA to adopt, as it did, an interpretation of the Clean Air Act that requires major emitting facilities to comply with certain permitting requirements just because that facility potentially could emit greenhouse gases.
At the same time, the high court held that the EPA has reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to include greenhouse gases as a pollutant for major emitting facilities that emit conventional pollutants, calling these “anyway” source. The EPA may require “anyway” sources to use best available control technology.
Included in the 29-page opinion of the Court, Justice Scalia wrote that the EPA’s interpretation of the Act was unreasonable because it would bring about an enormous and transformative expansion in EPA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.
“When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate ‘a significant portion of the American economy,’ … ,” Scalia wrote, “we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism. We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance.'”
On behalf of the Court, Scalia also wrote:
Were we to recognize the authority claimed by EPA in the Tailoring Rule (whereby it expanded its regulatory power), we would deal a severe blow to the Constitution’s separation of powers. Under our system of government, Congress makes laws and the President, acting at times through agencies like EPA, ‘faithfully execute(s)’ them. U. S. Const., Art. II, §3; … The power of executing the laws necessarily includes both authority and responsibility to resolve some questions left open by Congress that arise during the law’s administration. But it does not include a power to revise clear statutory terms that turn out not to work in practice.
Today, the Supreme Court repudiated the Obama administration’s effort to unilaterally rewrite the law in order to implement his radical job-killing agenda.
Congress already decisively rejected President Obama’s cap-and-trade plan and its massive energy taxes on American families. Instead of listening to the concerns of the American people and their elected representatives, the President and his EPA clearly misconstrued the Clean Air Act to give the administration regulatory authority that Congress clearly prohibited.
By rejecting this blatant power grab, the Court reaffirmed the longstanding principle that the Constitution gives Congress alone the power to make the law, which the executive branch cannot override or disregard.
I applaud the Court’s willingness to stand up to President Obama’s brazen overreach. This decision should be a wakeup call to everyone in Congress – Republican and Democrat – to stand up for the constitutional checks and balances against the President’s alarming pattern of lawlessness.
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Senator Lee said:
I am pleased that the Court has made clear that the EPA may not regulate all forms of greenhouse gas regulations. Under this administration, the EPA has consistently pushed the limits of its already broad powers. The Court’s decision shows that the judiciary will impose at least some limitations on that power, but much remains to be done and Congress must continue to carefully oversee this administration’s use of regulatory power.
Rep. Chris Stewart said:
Over the past several years, we’ve seen a growing trend from the Obama Administration and the EPA to unilaterally change regulations and laws without any input from Congress — going against the very structure of our governmental system. I think today’s Supreme Court ruling is a mixed bag, but it does reaffirm the importance of the system of checks and balances, which our Founding Father’s intended. I hope this not only stops future EPA power grabs, but trickles down to all federal agencies.
- Read the Supreme Court opinion here: SCOTUS – Utility Air v EPA – Opinion 20140623 – Case No. 12–1146
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