My View From The Country

EPA’s Power Continues to Grow

The EPA is the largest, but certainly not the only example, of what happens when our elected representatives abdicate their responsibility to govern.

I was born and raised in Wyoming and, as a result, am intimately aware of the war that the EPA has declared on coal. However, I was recently surprised to learn that these new rules, regulations and expanded powers of EPA did not come from either Congress passing new laws, or from the normal rulemaking process. 

Instead, the EPA and Obama administration stumbled upon a new way to expand their regulatory reach. It is called “sue and settle” arrangements. The process is simple. Get a radical fringe group to sue the EPA to enforce a law in a new and expanded way. The EPA, instead of litigating the case, enters into a consent decree with the suing party; a judge signs the decree without review; and suddenly the EPA has newly expanded powers.  

It has become, in fact, a new way to create a law with no input from anyone but the fringe group and EPA. The key to getting a consent decree with the EPA seems to be to sue in a way that gives them more power.  

There are several avenues to create new laws without going through Congress and the trend is accelerating at an alarming rate. What is most surprising to me is that Congress continues to willingly abdicate power, turning it over to the president and agencies. 

While this abdication of power and responsibility appears to be the politically expedient thing to do, Congress needs to be held accountable and required to do the job they were given. Consider our out-of-control spending and the growth of the deficit. The government continues to operate without a budget, because the executive branch refuses to sign onto a budget, and the belief that a government shutdown would be catastrophic. 

The bottom line, however, is the House of Representatives has the sole responsibility for originating spending bills, and they simply have been unwilling to exert the authority given to them. 

The Founding Fathers were right in setting up a checks-and-balance system, and to fear the power of an ever-growing executive branch. But with Congress unable to get anything done, the executive branch has expanded to fill the void. 

Until our elected representatives learn that they’re in Washington, D.C., to govern and not get re-elected, nothing will change. And we will continue to see government agencies and the White House step into that leadership void.

Discuss this Blog Entry 6

Rex (not verified)
on Sep 21, 2012

Correction: the judge does review the settlement. This is why the review and selection of judges is such an important responsibility. A radical fringe group gets to choose the district court in which to file the petition, so we cannot affortd any mistakes in selecting judges.

sdavis-mississippi (not verified)
on Sep 24, 2012

Once again Beef has given us a hyped up editorial, based solely on the "big government" hot button and devoid of substance. First of all, no agency makes new laws. The courts interpret laws which is not the same as making new ones. People tend to call it "new laws" if they don't like the courts ruling, and if they do like it then it's called "justice". The role of the courts is imbedded in the Constitution, so there's nothin un-American about the process. Second Beef acts like they've just discovered a new law of physics. The dynamic of an agency "inviting" a law suit has been around since the Constitution, it is practiced by all government agencies, at all levels, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, so for Beef to spend precious editorial space telling us this is something new, not only is a waste the space it simply is inaccurate and sloppy reporting. But most important, as the saying goes, "WHERE'S THE BEEF". So Beef doesn't like the regulation of coal. Coal is by far the dirtiest source of power in the world. Personally i'm glad the EPA is pressuring coal utilities to continue to clean up their act. If we want to burn coal, that's fine, but pay the price of doing it right, and if that price becomes too high vis a vis other sources, that's fine, that's the free market at work. But there is a price to burning dirty coal and if that price is not included in the cost of burning it then the free market can't do it's job. So Beef, give us something useful to talk about, something with substance and facts rather than hype and misinformation.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 24, 2012

Hit a nerve with sdavis, obviously. Ok, agencies don't make new laws, they ISSUE new regulations, with the force of law, under their interpretation of some broad-based law. The editorial is absolutely accurate. I guess sdavis is part of a radical fringe group, or just buys the line and rhetoric of these groups. He does not come from a sector of the economy that depends upon low cost electricity to survive, and that MAY PROVIDE JOBS (get the connection, Davis?). The solution is in balance of perspectives, and that is the job of the legislature. Good editorial!

Woodsh (not verified)
on Sep 24, 2012

Fish and wildlife, US Forest service has done this since the 70's, in both democrat and replubican administration surprised it took EPA so long. Need a law to prevent this

Anonymous (not verified)
on Sep 24, 2012

Keep after it Troy. It is not just the coal industry. EPA is probably the most out of control self serving governmental agency we have ever witnessed.

sdavis-mississippi (not verified)
on Sep 24, 2012

lol, well i guess i did hit a nerve, but apparently not one that stimulates fact based discussion. i know what a radical fringe looks like, they exist on the right and the left, i'm not a part of either. but i do know that coal is a dirty source of energy, maybe it's cheap for the end user but not for the folks that have to contend with the pollution it generates. if you want the free market to deal with this then ask the coal users/utilities, to keep it clean and pass that on to the consumer where the cost rightfully belongs and then let the consumer decide. what's wrong with, it's the essence of a free market. if you want the guy down wind to bear that cost rather than the consumer, that's ok but don't pretend that's fair or a free market solution. And again, if EPA is out of control,,,,state the examples and then back them up. It's possible they're just doing their job and you don't like having to face the music,,,it's possible they're out of control or off track, we'll never know unless you give the example and then defend your claim. don't make your case with a rant about big govt, that solves nothing, make it with the facts, or at least the facts as you know them and then let others weigh in either in agreement or disagreement. that would be a useful discussion.

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As a fulltime rancher, opinion contribur Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

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Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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