Published March 29, 2012
With the country focused on this week’s high drama at the Supreme Court, President Obama’s EPA quietly released long-delayed regulations to apply global warming rules never authorized by Congress to new coal-fired power plants.
This rule will effectively block any new coal-fired power plants from being built in America, and a second round of related rules – expected after the election, of course – will shut down existing coal-fired power plants.
The result will be steeply higher electricity prices, lost jobs, and lower standards of living. Remarkably, this is all done in the name of global warming, but even EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson admits it will have no discernible impact on global temperatures. Obama’s EPA is crippling the U.S. economy not to accomplish anything, but just to enjoy a nice, warm, green feeling of self-satisfaction.
Four years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama explained his anti-coal energy policy in an editorial board meeting with the San Francisco Chronicle. Obama said: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad.” He went on to explain: “So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
Indeed Obama attempted to make good on his campaign promise to bankrupt the coal industry and make electricity prices skyrocket the legitimate way – by proposing cap-and-trade legislation in Congress. It was jammed through the House but crashed and burned in the Senate, where many Democrats understood such an energy rationing plan to be political suicide.
They were right.
The American people decisively rejected energy taxes and rationing in the 2010 election, with dozens of Democrats losing because of their support for cap-and-trade. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin survived and won his Senate seat by literally shooting a bullet through in the bill in a television ad.
But the day after the 2010 election President Obama said: “Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way. It was a means, not an end. And I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.”
With Tuesday’s EPA action to bankrupt coal, he found his “other means” to address the “problem” of affordable electricity.
As I demonstrated in my book “Democracy Denied”, under Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, the power to make these decisions resides in Congress, not the EPA.
The House has already acted to fix the structural problem that allows bureaucrats to implement economy-changing rules without congressional approval when they passed the REINS Act last year, a bill that would require prior-approval from Congress for major new regulations.
The Senate has refused to act on the legislation.
Fortunately, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has already promised to introduce a resolution of disapproval that will put every senator on the record on this global warming power grab. Because the resolution is privileged under the Congressional Review Act, Harry Reid cannot prevent it from coming to the floor and it cannot be filibustered.
Whatever the result of that Senate vote is, it will ultimately be up to the American people to hold Congress and the president accountable for the actions taken by rogue EPA bureaucrats this week.
Nothing less than America's economic future is at stake.
Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and the author of “Democracy Denied: How Obama is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America - and How to Stop Him."