Does the Clean Air Act Give the EPA Too Much Power?

Does the Clean Air Act Give the EPA Too Much Power?

This isn’t a debate about global warming or climate change. No matter how noble the cause, not every solution is a good solution. There is a legitimate question about how the EPA goes about trying to solve things, especially under the Clean Air Act.

Is it possible for the Environmental Protection Agency to overstep its authority? That’s the question currently up for debate in the Supreme Court regarding the Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA case. While the Supreme Court’s decision from a previous case (Massachusetts v. EPA) allows the EPA to regulate greenhouse emissions from motor vehicles (known as the “Tailpipe Rule” ), the EPA has used this to push similar regulations on stationary sources (i.e. power plants). Even the EPA acknowledges that the relevant provisions of the Clean Air Act to do this is a slight stretch, according to the New York Times.

Under the Clean Air Act, there’s this implication that it has given the EPA free reign to react to changing circumstances without relying on Congress, but is this a good thing?

Case in point, the EPA’s “clean coal rules” is imposing costly, unproven technology on the coal industry. Hundreds of coal plants will eventually be shut down and any new coal-fired power plants will have to be built using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

“In typical EPA fashion, they’re putting the cart before the horse to advance their environmental policy agenda,” said Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter. “They’re moving forward with a controversial rule to regulate carbon based on technology that isn’t commercially available. ” (Daily Caller)

This is backed up by former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter who recently released a report in December with other clean energy experts.

“This technology is only just gaining maturity for power generation,” said Ritter. “We are not saying CCS isn’t commercially viable, but it is unproven enough to not bank [greenhouse-gas] targets alone on this target.” (National Journal)

It’s one thing to try and diminish harmful effects on the environment but that doesn’t work if the EPA is doing it in a questionable way. Keep in mind that the EPA’s hardline on the coal industry is also wiping out the jobs of hardworking American citizens. Every choice and regulation that the EPA makes is not just about the environment. It affects average citizens and their ability to keep food on the table.

Sen. Rand Paul is against the EPA’s broad interpretation of the “Tailpipe Rule” and  joined Sen. Mitch McConnell’s amicus brief filed for the Supreme Court case mentioned above.  Paul has been criticized for a stance against protecting the environment, but dig deeper. Don’t stop on the surface when it comes to “saving the planet.” The EPA is a government agency that has to follow the rules just like everyone else and sometimes they don’t keep their toes to the line.

What are your thoughts on the EPA’s approach to the Clean Air Act? Is the EPA following the rules or are they making it up as they go? Leave a comment below or on Facebook.

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