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  • Court Strikes Down EPA's Abuse of Power

    A major component of the Obama Administration’s regulatory crackdown on fossil fuels was struck down Tuesday by a federal appeals court panel that ruled the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule “transgressed statutory boundaries.” The decision vacates a measure that otherwise jeopardized thousands of jobs and the reliability of the nation’s electricity supply.

    The regulation at issue, also known as the Transport Rule, involves power plant emissions (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, in particular) that waft across state lines and contribute significantly to other states’ noncompliance with national air quality standards. Finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August 2011, the rule was stayed shortly thereafter in response to dozens of legal challenges from states, utilities, trade associations, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

    Derived from the so-called “good neighbor” provisions in the Clean Air Act, the regulation mandated reductions of sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent (below 2005 levels) and nitrogen oxides by 54 percent (below 2005 levels) in just two years. Analysts warned that the requirements, which would necessitate retrofitting some 575 coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants, were unaffordable and unachievable in the allotted timeframe. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation estimated that companies would be compelled to retire 3 GW to 7 GW of electricity generation (the equivalent of powering 2.25 million to 5.25 million homes).

    In other words, the rule—along with more than a dozen other costly regulations imposed in the past three years—went a long way toward realizing President Obama’s 2008 campaign declaration that electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket” under his energy platform.

    The Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to calculate an upwind state’s contribution to a downwind state’s nonattainment of air quality standards (accounting for the downwind state’s own contribution and emissions from other upwind states). But the EPA ignored the plain language of the statute and instead required far more stringent cuts in emissions—irrespective of states’ actual contributions to nonattainment in downwind states. In so doing, the court concluded, “EPA’s reading of [the good neighbor provision] reaches far beyond what the text will bear.”

    Indeed, much to the court’s chagrin, the EPA went to ridiculous lengths to justify its abuse of authority. As noted in the opinion, the “EPA would not rule out the possibility that…it could require a state to reduce more than the State’s total emissions that go out of State.” (Emphasis in original.)

    The court also rejected the EPA’s “absurd” and “unreasonable” attempt to force implementation plans on the states before the states were given a reasonable opportunity to implement their own. For all its other flaws, the Clean Air Act does allow for a measure of federalism: The EPA is authorized to set air quality standards, but states are responsible for choosing which individual sources within their borders must reduce emissions and by how much. The EPA instead trampled on the statute by foisting federal implementation plans on the states before they were given an opportunity to devise their own.

    Until the EPA comes up with a lawful rule, the court ordered the agency to revive a previous incarnation of the good neighbor regulation (a.k.a. the Clean Air Interstate Rule)—despite the fundamental flaws in that regulation previously identified by the court. But the court is also once again requiring the agency to formulate a new rule that will pass legal muster and warned the agency that it must act expeditiously.

    Whether the agency will appeal Tuesday’s ruling remains to be seen. But there’s little reason to expect that the EPA will hew by the rules in the future, considering its longstanding disregard for the law. Meanwhile, a dozen other costly and unwarranted regulations still threaten the energy sector, diverting huge sums of money and time to challenging government’s chronic abuse of power. But the fight is worth waging.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Court Strikes Down EPA's Abuse of Power

    1. KJinAZ says:

      It's sure nice to hear there is still SOME sanity left in the world. Now maybe we can crank upo a few more coal plants the shut down with this already.

    2. Stan Hess says:

      The EPA is out of control!!

    3. Tom says:

      The EPA represents one of the most blatant abuses of power by the federal government and also represents one of the most redundant and useless expenditures of federal funds given the fact that every state in the union has their own Environmental Protection Department already. Where there are concerns over pollution that crosses jurisdiction such as the Potomac River/Chesapeake Bay situation, regional agencies can be formed by all the states involved. Still no need for federal intervention. When you start peeling back the layers of needless bureaucracy in Washington, you find several other notably useless cabinet departments whose elimination could go a long way to reducing the debt and deficits…as in Education Department, Energy Department, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services. All of these are state responsibilities or serve no purpose at all. Energy Dept has been a total failure as has been the Dept of Education. There is no excuse for their existence.

    4. @Snuffy_Joe says:

      FINALLY we hear some common sense about this issue. Mr. Obama's war on coal and foscile fuels (and the jobs that go with them) has finally met with some adult, non radical guidance. Something the EPA is desparately short on.

      Hopefully, after this election, we will rid this nation of these radical Socialists in the EPA and Dept of the Interior. There is more than one way to destroy a Nation and over the past 4 years, these two Federal Departments have been demonstrating the alternative and more dangerous way.

      My thanks to the Courts for their ability to demonstrate reason and fairness.

    5. More government overreaching. Glad to see it put down. Why can't the Obama administration learn to work within the rules? Why is he so arrogant to think that he alone knows what is best for this Country? He should learn to lead by consensus building – it is a whole lot stronger and lasts a lifetime.

    6. Ct-Tom says:

      No two ways about it: Get rid of the EPA.

    7. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      This regime may grudgingly and quietly abide by this court order or just drag their feet on appeal like they did with the drilling moratoria and healthcare rulings. However, if Obama wins re-election, who seriously thinks they will not plow forward with some slight alteration of this rule and issue even more rules that have no statutory basis?

      The CAA needs a major overhaul or outright repeal as it is one of many laws being used to bludgeon states and the energy sector into submission. Even when said entities win in court, they have expended vast financial resources, like you said, that could have been used to add jobs as well as increase efficiency and reduce emmisions. Reducing climate change and lowering sea levels is no comfort for someone looking for a job.

    8. Sanford Olnhausen says:

      It is obvious Obama is continuing to push his costly green energy policies on the poor families. He is ignoring the inexpensive natural gas and coal surplus' that are readily available right here in the good old USA.

    9. CitizenPatriot says:

      Here is a perfect example of this Administration's intent to curtail domestic enegy sources which do power our Nation and its Economy, while spending about $700,000/Green Job created. Instead of welcoming the technological advances used to develop hydrocarbons found across this Nation, BHO must think we should have windmills on our cars, etc.
      It has been proven such alternative sources to be inefficient, expensive and unreliable, costing us all (taxpayers) outrageous $$$'s, loss of choices and the ability to build our economy. Let's remember, the only real jobs created have been in the development of fossil fuels and that will not change anytime in any near future. It bothers me when after 3.5 years, he actually mentioned natural gas as a real source of energy.

    10. Lloyd Scallan says:

      "Wheather the agency will appeal?" Again, the author fails to understand that the EPA is Obama. Thus any objections to any of Obama's policies, the Alinsky training kicks in and the Obama's lackeys attack. To expect Obama to allow one of his most powerful tools to collapse our economy to be stopped by something so trival as the law, shows a total lack of the realization of what is Obama.

    11. Doug says:

      Get Rid of the EPA !

    12. huey6367 says:

      The EPA is just one of the many federal regulatory agencies that should be greatly reduced in size or eliminated. When it was first formed, it had a huge job in front of it because the country was very dirty. Now we have cleaned up and learned the errors of our ways but the EPA is still looking to be viable.

      Currently, aside from the aforementioned, the EPA is a tool of Obama to rape this country of its energy potential.

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