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.