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Reeling In Unelected Bureaucrats

The EPA has quietly issued another new massive regulation.  The unelected bureaucrats in DC have decided that our nation’s coal and natural gas fired power plants must meet 90% carbon capture by 2032, just eight years from now. 

Under the state of current technology, the EPA’s new standards are impossible to meet. But unachievable standards aren’t an accident or mistake.  Without authority from Congress, the EPA’s not-so-secret objective is to put fossil fuel plants out of business.  As we noted in our last blog, the EPA is so insistent upon its goal that the EPA ignores the energy loss that will accompany all of the required carbon capturing.

This regulation is particularly harmful to Pennsylvanians. Pennsylvania’s natural gas reserves are capable of fueling our energy needs for decades, if not centuries.  But if the market for that gas is strangled by the unelected bureaucrats the impact will be felt in industry job loss, disappearing impact fees, lost tax revenue, and loss of other services and jobs as secondary and tertiary job losses ripple across Pennsylvania’s economy.

There is a ray of hope.  Just a few days ago, in the case of Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, the Supreme Court overturned the 40 year old Chevron case. The Chevron deference doctrine arose in a 1984 case where the Court held that judges should defer to the executive branch on regulations when laws passed by Congress are ambiguous.  The ruling just a few days ago resulted from a case in which commercial herring fishermen were forced to pay for independent agents to come abord their boats to observe their fishing operations.  But the underlying statute passed by Congress did not speak to the issue of whether fishermen can be charged for inspections. 

Under the old Chevron doctrine, the decision of the bureaucrats was given deference so long as it offered a “permissible construction” of the statute, even if the court disagreed with that construction.  In rejecting the old Chevron deference doctrine the Supreme Court held that it is beyond the power of the bureaucrats to decide what is law. The decision makes clear that federal courts now are the sole arbiter of whether a federal agency’s action aligns with the underlying statute, without regard or deference to the federal agency’s interpretation of Congressional intent. 

The recent decision may not lead to the undoing of the massive growth of regulations experienced over the last 40 years.  But it will curtail some of the bureaucrats’ power going forward.  This is tiny step—but an important first one.

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