SCOTUS Smackdown of EPA: Top Takeaways

 

Stroke of the pen. Law of the land ... (record screech!)The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) did something remarkable on Tuesday: It momentarily respected the separation of powers and finally shouted “Enough!” to the lawless rule of the Environmental Protection Agency. SCOTUS issued a stay on Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” which is a radical, law-by-decree scheme to do nothing less than put this nation’s enormously complex energy-delivery system into the hands of central planners on the Potomac.

It was Clinton advisor Paul Begala who once said: “Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda cool.” Not any more … at least for now in this case.

Here are the top three take-aways of this historic moment in SCOTUS history.

1. Ding, Dong, the Clean Power Plan is Dead.

With this stay, the Clean Power Plan is suspended until President Obama is out of office. On the fastest of tracks, SCOTUS will hear arguments this summer and issue a ruling in December (after the election) or in January (after a new president is inaugurated.) Even if the EPA’s Clean Power Plan rule is upheld, the next Republican president will cancel it. And while it may be likely that a President Hillary Clinton would keep that rule in effect, I don’t think that’s a guarantee. Clinton would want to put her own stamp on a climate agenda, not merely rubber stamp Obama’s. And if she has any hope of making her mark on this, a Republican Congress will demand she start over.

That said, it is not likely that SCOTUS would stay the ruling and then let it go back into effect. This extraordinary move is only justified if the Court thinks the plaintiffs, who want the Clean Power Plan nullified, are most-likely to prevail.

2. The Paris Climate Agreement from COP-21 is Now “All Dead,” Instead of “Mostly Dead.”

If you took the time to read the eco-left’s comments of woe back in December, you’d clearly see what a defeat COP-21 was for them. Oh, some leftist outfits made happy noises about how this will help “battle climate change,” and the MSM trumpeted the Paris Agreement as an “historic moment.” But the fact of the matter is this: The document that came out of COP-21 was a complete failure. It is a sham. The agreement is not a treaty. It is not legally binding to any nation. It has no enforcement mechanisms. And even what it promises to do — keep the global temperature from rising no more than 1.5 degrees celsius by 2100 (because 2.0 degrees celsius would kill us all!) — is just as likely to happen as not no matter how much CO2 emissions grow or abate … and they will surely grow.

Global temperatures, measured by satellite, show no upward trend since the late 1990s — despite the fact that about one-third of all human CO2 emissions since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution happened in that time span. Many solar scientists have been noting for years that they’ve observed historically low sunspot activity and solar energy — a possible repeat of the so-called Maunder Minimum, which has been tied to periods of global cooling, such as the “Little Ice Age” that ended in the mid-1800s.

Anyway, back to Obama. He left Paris saying: It doesn’t matter that the Paris Agreement isn’t a treaty. It doesn’t matter that there are no enforcement mechanisms. I will instruct the EPA to essentially outlaw coal-fired power plants in the United States over the next decade. And because the EPA’s rule-making is almost never overturned — by either a court or a subsequent administration — this will be the “law of the land” in the United States. So let it be written! So let it be done!

Well, so much the president’s will being law, at least in this case. Which brings us to …

3. SCOTUS has had enough of Obama Imperialism

It’s a little late, but SCOTUS has finally put its foot down. As Marita Noon, executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy, noted in a release from The Heartland Institute, this is the first time SCOTUS has stayed an EPA rule. Why? Because the EPA (and Obama) were so obviously and egregiously overstepping their authority — and their arrogance about it throughout the Obama presidency was probably their undoing in the eyes of the Court.

As the applicants for the stay noted in their brief: After SCOTUS ruled in 2015 that EPA was abusing its rule-making authority under the Clean Air Act, the EPA bragged on its own blog that the decision was moot. EPA knew that industry would be compelled to operate under the assumption that the rule would be upheld. To do otherwise was foolish — not only from a business stand-point (can’t be caught flat-footed compared to competitors) — but a legal one (we’ll be liable if we don’t comply by the deadline). In other words, the EPA spiked the football and said, explicitly, that SCOTUS doesn’t matter — even when it rules against it.

I want to note this bit from the plaintiff’s brief, joined by the attorneys general from 29 of our 50 states:

In short, EPA extracted “nearly $10 billion a year” in compliance from power plants before this Court could even review the rule …

Where did power plants get that $10 billion? From you and me, the consumers of electricity. Obama’s Clean Power Plan is not a rule that punishes Big Energy corporations. It’s a rule that punishes you ane me, the consumers of the energy we need to live. Remember that the next time you plug in your iPhone or hear your heat pump kick in.

Well, it appears that five justices decided they’ve had enough of the EPA’s and Obama’s corruption of the law-making process. (BTW: It’s a scandal that the decision on the stay was not unanimous. Even the Court’s liberals should have proper respect for the separation of powers; for their ego’s sake, if not the Constitution.)

A rule as sweeping, significant, and expensive to consumers as the Clean Power Plan must originate in Congress, duly pass, and be signed by the president. Or, if part of a treaty, it must be submitted to and approved by the Senate. I think we can now expect (or at least hope) that SCOTUS will finally uphold that basic constitutional principle. We should hope Justice Antonin Scalia gets to write the majority opinion, and not merely contribute a biting concurring opinion. This decision needs to really sting.

Not to get our hopes up, but this is shaping up to be a very rare judicial victory for the rule of law over the rule of bureaucrats and an imperial president. But we need many, many more to turn the ship of state even remotely toward Constitutional governance after eight years of Obama’s rule-by-decree.

There are 21 comments.

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  1. Chirp Inactive
    Chirp
    @Chirp

    This makes me happy.

    • #1
  2. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Jim Lakely:The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) did something remarkable on Tuesday: It momentarily respected the separation of powers and finally shouted “Enough!” to the lawless rule of the Environmental Protection Agency. SCOTUS issued a stay on Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” which is a radical, law-by-decree scheme to do nothing less than put this nation’s enormously complex energy-delivery system into the hands of central planners on the Potomac.

    Excellent news.

    Jim Lakely:Global temperatures, measured by satellite, show no upward trend since the late 1990s — despite the fact that about one-third of all human CO2 emissions since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution happened in that time span. Many solar scientists have been noting for years that they’ve observed historically low sunspot activity and solar energy — a possible repeat of the so-called Maunder Minimum, which has been tied to periods of global cooling, such as the “Little Ice Age” that ended in the mid-1800s.

    I’m not qualified to comment on the data itself, but I’ve read quite a bit from sources I trust that leads me to think that the warming trend is much stronger than that, but still much weaker than presented by the alarmists.

    Regardless, concluding that global warming is real and troublesome does not imply endorsement for Leftist solutions.

    • #2
  3. PTomanovich Member
    PTomanovich
    @PTomanovich

    David Brooks hardest hit.

    • #3
  4. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Good news for the time being. What/who will stop the EPA and the rest of the Left from taking another run at this in a year or so? They never quit.

    • #4
  5. Jim Lakely Inactive
    Jim Lakely
    @JimLakely

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I’m not qualified to comment on the data itself, but I’ve read quite a bit from sources I trust that leads me to think that the warming trend is much stronger than that, but still much weaker than presented by the alarmists.

    Fair enough. You should seek out many sources on this complicated subject and judge their credibility. The two basic, key questions are: (1) Is the chief driver of climate change human activity or natural forces; and (2) are the changes we can measure over the last 200 years or so within historic natural variability? The answer to the latter — no matter what you conclude is driving climate — is “yes.”

    • #5
  6. Jim Lakely Inactive
    Jim Lakely
    @JimLakely

    Nick Stuart:Good news for the time being. What/who will stop the EPA and the rest of the Left from taking another run at this in a year or so? They never quit.

    No. They don’t. The nature of bureaucracies is to grab more and more power. It’s necessary to justify their very existence. The best we can hope for is a slow-down in that power-grab and a return to science-based policy-making.

    • #6
  7. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Jim Lakely:

    Nick Stuart:Good news for the time being. What/who will stop the EPA and the rest of the Left from taking another run at this in a year or so? They never quit.

    No. They don’t. The nature of bureaucracies is to grab more and more power. It’s necessary to justify their very existence.

    Cruz promises to work against the whole “navigable waterways” nonsense that is core for the EPA’s ability to regulate the entire country.

    The EPA can be restrained – significantly. And legally, too. If the executive is bold and willing.

    • #7
  8. Brian McMenomy Inactive
    Brian McMenomy
    @BrianMcMenomy

    Somewhere, Michael Mann is trying to figure out if he can sue the Supreme Court…

    • #8
  9. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    We need a denazification program for our own government. Wipe out the EPA and taint every employee with a personnel file entry.

    • #9
  10. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    This is great news for Constitutional government. The hysteria of the AGW crowd is reaching fever pitch. The president has stated that global warming will make the earth uninhabitable.
    The science of CO2 rises in the atmosphere due to human activity is clear, the problem is that the predictions of the amount of warming that will occur due to it and the consequences of the temperature rise are politically driven, not scientifically driven.

    • #10
  11. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    iWe:

    Jim Lakely:

    Nick Stuart:Good news for the time being. What/who will stop the EPA and the rest of the Left from taking another run at this in a year or so? They never quit.

    No. They don’t. The nature of bureaucracies is to grab more and more power. It’s necessary to justify their very existence.

    Cruz promises to work against the whole “navigable waterways” nonsense that is core for the EPA’s ability to regulate the entire country.

    The EPA can be restrained – significantly. And legally, too. If the executive is bold and willing.

    Of course Congress has the ultimate strong hand in this. Only Congress, along with a cooperative President can change the law giving unlimited power to the EPA to decide for us how to heat our homes, etc.
    This ruling is a hopeful sign but we voters  also need to let our Congressmen know we’ve had enough.

    • #11
  12. Redneck Desi Inactive
    Redneck Desi
    @RedneckDesi

    What is frightening about this decision is that it is another 5-4 decision. Leftists judges never go against aggregation of power or judicial overreach. The next president will likely get 1-2 scotus appointments…a rather sobering thought

    • #12
  13. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    I believe most electrical suppliers are public utilities. As such they have very little, if any, incentive for keeping their costs of goods low. Public utilities normally have a percentage of profit they are allowed after all costs are incurred. Therefore, if the cost of energy is forced upwards by government regulation, the utilities actually gain in profit. They operate as an allowed monopoly…no competition, except from other types of energy, such as natural gas competing with electricity. The consumer, under this system, is completely disrobed and at the mercy of the “higher powers”.

    I never did understand the progressive philosophy with energy. They seem to want a greater usage of electricity, i.e: electric cars and heat pumps, electric trains. Yet they do everything to drive up the cost of electricity vis-a-vis  not allowing construction of new power plants…clean coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric. They only want to expand the non reliable nor storage-able solar and wind.

    • #13
  14. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    If the silly bastards had ruled correctly in 2007 in Massachusetts v. EPA (Thanks, Justice Kennedy!) this would have been avoided.

    I used lobby for industry groups Clean Air issues in the 1990’s and if you said you could make an engine that emitted only CO2 and H2O with no other contents (SO2, NOx, HCs etc), that would have been regarded as pollutant-free.  NOBODY believed that CO2 was harmful as a matter of law.  None of the ways of measuring harm (medical, biological, surface damage etc) applied.  Nobody in EPA, Congress or even the green groups saw it any other way.

    To import the global warming fictions into the Clean Air Act simply because it was the trendy thing to do is vintage Justice “Zeitgeist Tony” Kennedy.

    I am not confident that this will end well.  Green energy requires subsidies.  It is now a significant interest group.  Tom Steyer investing simultaneously in green energy and in eco groups that lobby for subsidies and mandates for green energy is the paradigm.

    I can easily see a future GOP congress and president browbeat by the MSM into continuing down this costly and pointless path, using tax dollars to fund their enemies as they continue to do.

    • #14
  15. Jim Lakely Inactive
    Jim Lakely
    @JimLakely

    cdor: I never did understand the progressive philosophy with energy. They seem to want a greater usage of electricity, i.e: electric cars and heat pumps, electric trains. Yet they do everything to drive up the cost of electricity vis-a-vis not allowing construction of new power plants…clean coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric. They only want to expand the non reliable nor storage-able solar and wind.

    I like to call electric cars “coal-powered cars.”

    • #15
  16. Goldwater's Revenge Inactive
    Goldwater's Revenge
    @GoldwatersRevenge

    One area that scientist have repeatedly proven to be inept is in predicting the future. One prominent scientist who accepts the global warming claim also stated that he thinks there is little chance of a multinational agreement that will effectively stop it. He predicts that if catastrophic warming does occur we will do what humans have always done, we will adapt. I tend to agree.

    • #16
  17. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Jim,

    A long time ago just after the earth cooled (the late 70s) I was selling EPA certified monitors to industry..etc. People have no idea what it is to have a Federal Regulatory Agency come down on you. I watched as the EPA attacked the largest industrial corporation in the world like a lion attacking a water buffalo.

    The absolute power to regulate is the absolute power to destroy. This is a great day and a great precedent.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #17
  18. Pugshot Member
    Pugshot
    @Pugshot

    Jim Lakely: I think we can now expect (or at least hope) that SCOTUS will finally uphold that basic constitutional principle. We should hope Justice Antonin Scalia gets to write the majority opinion, and not merely contribute a biting concurring opinion. This decision needs to really sting.

    From your lips to SCOTUS’s ears!

    • #18
  19. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Z in MT: The hysteria of the AGW crowd is reaching fever pitch.

    Much like cornered animals, the greenies are getting ever more aggressive. I take it as a good sign. They’re cornered and they know it. The endgame will prove interesting.

    • #19
  20. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Jim Lakely: Fair enough. You should seek out many sources on this complicated subject and judge their credibility.

    Agreed. The thing that bugs me the most about the climate alarmists is their lack of acknowledgement in how difficult the question is to answer: the data’s complicated, the models are devilishly complicated and not very predictive, and the discipline is relatively new.

    I’m perfectly willing to call some behavior science denial, but this subject is very poorly suited to it. That they don’t acknowledge this is really telling.

    • #20
  21. John Hanson Thatcher
    John Hanson
    @JohnHanson

    The scariest thing about this is it points out how precarious a “conservative” ability to achieve anything, no matter how small really is.  The next president likely will get at least 3, and easily 4 appointments to the supreme court.  At least 2 of the conservatives are getting up there in years, and so are at least 2 of the liberals.  The worst thing about Trump, and the one that will last the longest is he is completely untrustworthy with respect to Supreme Court appointments, and a shift of just one “conservative” say Kennedy, or Scalia to a left leaning judge, means it becomes impossible to pass any conservative legislation at all, since even if it is clearly against the actual words of the constitution, or some Federal statute, a liberal majority will  declare it null and void and substitute leftist law from the court.

    We need the next president to appoint reliable conservative judges, e.g.  Alito’s, Scalia, Thomas, and not have any more “growth” in office ala Souter.  That will NOT happen if  Trump wins, and is inconceivable if Hillary or Bernie wins.

    • #21

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