Thursday, December 24, 2015

Editorial - Brushing Back a Lawless EPA

President Obama continued to use executive agencies to exceed his constitutional power in 2015, none more so than the Environmental Protection Agency. The courts have pushed back on occasion, and now Congress is beginning to use its powers to do the same.

Though it didn’t get much media attention, Congress used the Congressional Review Act to put two bills blocking EPA rules on Mr. Obama’s desk the past two months. One would have nullified the EPA’s draconian new Clean Power Plan that will force lower emissions from existing power plants. A second measure is designed to block new coal-fired plants.

The Congressional Review Act allows a bill to pass without 60 votes in the Senate, and the GOP put together a bipartisan majority in both houses. Mr. Obama rejected both measures with rare pocket vetoes that let a President refuse to sign a bill when Congress is out of session, as it has been since Friday. 

The bills were still useful in showing Mr. Obama’s hand to voters in energy states and showing the courts that the legislative branch rejects Mr. Obama’s regulatory interpretation of Congressional statutes. This could help in particular the 27-state legal challenge to the Clean Power Plan.

Meanwhile, Congress is also using its power of the purse to complicate the EPA’s legal evasions. Conservatives are understandably frustrated that last week’s budget bill didn’t include policy riders to halt new climate and water regulations—though GOP disunity didn’t help. But Republicans did at least pinch the EPA’s budget.

 The EPA received $8.1 billion or $451 million less than Mr. Obama had demanded, and no increase from the year before. Congress has cut the EPA’s allowance by $2.1 billion, or 21%, since fiscal 2010. This has forced the EPA to cut more than 2,000 full-time employees over the same period, and its manpower is now at the lowest level since 1989.

For this year's budget it says, "and no increase from the year before."  That's not a budget cut.  Apparently you can abuse the public, violate federal law and defy Congress and that legislative body will send you the same amount of dinero you had the year before.  Further budget cuts would have been far more meaningful than those bills they knew would be vetoed.

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