by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
One by one, the artifacts of President Barack Obama’s rule by administrative fiat are tumbling.
The latest is his signature Clean Power Plan that Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt says he will begin the arduous process of unwinding.
The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency has been characterized — despite his bumptiousness — not by executive overreach, but executive retrenchment. Trump the populist has operated within constitutional lines better than his technocratic predecessor, who used tendentious readings of the law and sweeping bureaucratic actions to impose his policies on immigration, health care, college campuses, and the environment. …
… The legal foundation of the Clean Power Plan was so rickety that the Supreme Court took the extraordinary step of blocking its implementation pending all the lawsuits against it.
The presumption of the plan was jaw-dropping. The EPA usually targets pollutants; carbon dioxide isn’t one (although the Supreme Court erroneously said that it meets the definition in the case of Massachusetts vs. EPA). The EPA has always regulated specific power plants; in this scheme, it went “outside the fence” to mandate broader actions by the states, e.g., the adoption of quotas for renewable energy. The EPA once considered its mandate to be protecting clear air and water for Americans; with the Clean Power Plan, it sought to adjust the global thermostat for the good of all of humanity.