The Supreme Court could yet render another decision that could make conservatives happy. It could clip the wings of federal regulators in a number of areas. Liz Peek looks forward to it.
West Virginia v. EPA is potentially the most consequential US Supreme Court case remaining to be decided.
The immediate issue is the limits of the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases.
The broader issue is the ability of Federal agencies to regulate anything at all.
— Dr. Robert Rohde (@RARohde) June 27, 2022
Peek: Believe it or not, overturning Roe v. Wade may not be the Supreme Court’s most dramatic decision this year. Instead, its ruling on West Virginia v. the Environmental Protection Agency could prove far more consequential. It could literally upend how our government works. For the better.
West Virginia vs. the EPA asks whether important policies that impact the lives of all Americans should be made by unelected D.C. bureaucrats or by Congress. This SCOTUS could well decide that ruling by executive agency fiat is no longer acceptable.
The case involves the Clean Power Plan, which was adopted under President Barack Obama to fight climate change; the program was estimated to cost as much as $33 billion per year and would have completely reordered our nation’s power grid. The state of West Virginia, joined by two coal companies and others, sued the EPA, arguing the plan was an abuse of power.
By deciding in favor of West Virginia, the court could begin to rein in the vast powers of the alphabet agencies in D.C. that run our lives and return it to legislators whom we elect to create…legislation. Just as the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that abortion laws are more appropriately left up to the people’s elected representatives, it may decide in West Virginia vs. EPA that Congress, and not federal agencies, should write our laws.
A decision that puts Congress in charge would stall environmental rules intended to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy. Legislators, back in the driver’s seat, would have to debate and go public with the consequences – and costs — of regulations that are now adopted with little buy-in from the public.
To further their climate agenda, Democrats have been able to hide the full-in price tag of abandoning oil and gas as our main energy sources by creating tax subsidies for renewables. If consumers had to pay the real cost of wind and solar power, they might not be so enthusiastic about what President Joe Biden calls the great “transition.”
But the case goes beyond environmental regulations. A ruling in favor of West Virginia would reverse a decades-long trend in which Congress has handed off to federal agencies decisions our legislators refuse or are unable to make. The usurping of authority by D.C. bureaucracies began with the New Deal in the 1930s, when an ambitious President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the way by creating the TVA, the WPA and a total of 69 other offices and executive branch agencies to do his bidding. The process occasioned Democrat Al Smith to complain that he was “submerged in a bowl of alphabet soup.”
Restricting the power of the alphabet soup authorities might require that our representatives and senators actually do their jobs, allowing less time for posturing and passing pointless dead-on-arrival bills. They might have to show up more than half the days in the year, for instance, which is the current norm.
It could, for sure, derail the ambitions of Joe Biden, who won no significant majority in Congress and appears incapable of “working across the aisle,” though as Candidate Biden, he argued that ability was one of his strongest credentials…
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote in a decision, “We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance.” That limiting guidance appears to have support from the conservative justices on the court today.
If the court launches a widespread curtailment of governing by executive agency, as it should, we will see more protests and renewed cries to “Pack the Court,” including from members of Congress. After all, they’ll have to get to work.