Congress Must Derail President Obama's Backdoor EPA Power Grab

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In last year’s budget, President Obama called for Congress to enact cap-and-trade legislation, using a slush fund to disguise the cost of the program.  But cap-and-trade was decisively rejected in the 2010 election, so this year President Obama’s budget simply funds the EPA to move forward with regulating greenhouse gases on its own – against the clear wishes of voters and without any legitimate legislative basis.

Congress must take responsibility, step in, and stop this power grab.

One day after the election, President Obama told us this was coming:  “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.”

Now his budget makes clear how the skinning of the cat – by which he means American energy consumers who will suffer skyrocketing prices – will move forward.  It’s on Page 146 of the Obama budget: “The administration continues to support greenhouse gas emissions reductions in the United States in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050.”  Those just happen to be the same levels required by the failed Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill.  In other words, Obama is telling the EPA to just pretend the bill passed and regulate away.

Along with directly boosting EPA funding for these unauthorized greenhouse gas regulation, Obama’s budget also calls for $25 million in funding for state global warming regulation.

When the EPA’s global warming regulations are fully phased in, they will not only cause energy prices to skyrocket, but will also regulate almost every aspect of American life.  Schools, hospitals, churches, and even large single-family homes will be subject to federal permitting requirements and regulations.  Everything with a motor, from cars and trucks to tractors, airplanes, trains (and even lawn mowers), would be regulated.  Because control technology doesn’t exist, the EPA will mandate complete redesigns and operational changes.  If EPA is not stopped, the agency will re-engineer the U.S. economy according to its arbitrary bureaucratic vision – a return to the failure of central economic planning.

Fortunately, House Republicans are willing to stand up and stop the administration’s outrageous backdoor EPA global warming power grab. They will take their first shot in today’s continuing resolution, which slashes EPA funding $3 billion, a 29 percent cut.  It prohibits funds from being used to promulgate or enforce global warming regulations.  It even prohibits funding for an “Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, or any substantially similar position,” which is the role Carol Browner was in when she oversaw the EPA’s global warming strategy from the White House.  (She had to sidestep Senate confirmation because of her membership on the board of the radical Socialist International Commission on World Society, which proclaimed: “Measures against climate change in every country will inevitably have to include a change in lifestyle and a substantial reduction of greenhouse gases.”)

The House measure is a temporary solution, because the bill only runs through September.  Nonetheless, it is a huge step toward reestablishing Congress as the legitimate legislative branch that will decide whether we want, as a country, to adopt global warming regulations.  Kudos to House leadership for taking on the EPA.

The Democratic Senate will not be inclined to go along, and individual Democratic senators will need to hear from constituents about this issue.  The clear message to the Senate must be: You can delegate authority, but you can never delegate responsibility.  If you fail to stop out-of-control regulators, voters will hold you accountable.

Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and the author of, an interactive chart of Obama’s regulatory power grabs.