by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Clean Power Plan is headed for the crematorium. Good riddance.
CPP was the textbook example of the Obama administration’s attempt to supplant Congress by interpreting the administrative state’s regulatory scope as effectively unlimited. Prior to CPP, the Environmental Protection Agency had regulated the emissions of electricity-generating plants individually to ensure that they did not exceed pollution limits. The Obama administration ran wild with its regulatory ambitions, using CPP to impose renewable-energy quotas on the states and adopting through administrative fiat limits on carbon dioxide emissions that Congress has repeatedly declined to impose. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant as traditionally understood — it is what human beings exhale — but it is a greenhouse gas, and global warming is an obsession of contemporary progressives.
The Supreme Court, understanding the radical expansion of executive power embodied in CPP, took the unusual step of delaying its implementation so legal issues could be worked out (a process that Trump’s intervention of course will end). Donald Trump ran for president promising to lighten the regulatory load on the coal industry, and once he was elected, his administration set about doing so. President Barack Obama was fond of justifying his expansive interpretation of presidential powers with two words: “I won.” Well, guess who else won.
The Democrats are, predictably, apoplectic. But if the Democrats want the United States to adopt a national policy of severely restricting carbon dioxide emissions as part of an international crusade against global warming, then they should write up a proposal, put it to a vote, and make their case to the voters.