Supreme Court rules against EPA for regulatory overreach; Utah congressmen remark

ST. GEORGE – The U.S. Supreme Court issued its judgment Monday finding the Environmental Portection Agency exceeded its authority when it expanded its regulatory reach by tailoring an expansive interpretation of an existing law. Utah senators Hatch and Lee and Rep. Chris Stewart applauded the decision with varying enthusiasm.

Sen. Orrin Hatch applauded the decision as standing up to President Obama’s “brazen overreach,” while Sen. Mike Lee said it shows that the judiciary will impose at least some limitations on the EPA’s powers. Rep. Chris Stewart said the ruling is a mixed bag but does reaffirm the importance of the nation’s system of checks and balances.

The case before the court was Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency. In the court’s decision, it held that the Clean Air Act does not compel or permit the EPA to adopt, as it did, an interpretation of the Clean Air Act that requires major emitting facilities to comply with certain permitting requirements just because that facility potentially could emit greenhouse gases.

At the same time, the high court held that the EPA has reasonably interpreted the Clean Air Act to include greenhouse gases as a pollutant for major emitting facilities that emit conventional pollutants, calling these “anyway” source. The EPA may require “anyway” sources to use best available control technology.

Included in the 29-page opinion of the Court, Justice Scalia wrote that the EPA’s interpretation of the Act was unreasonable because it would bring about an enormous and transformative expansion in EPA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.

“When an agency claims to discover in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate ‘a significant portion of the American economy,’ … ,” Scalia wrote, “we typically greet its announcement with a measure of skepticism. We expect Congress to speak clearly if it wishes to assign to an agency decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance.'”

On behalf of the Court, Scalia also wrote:

Were we to recognize the authority claimed by EPA in the Tailoring Rule (whereby it expanded its regulatory power), we would deal a severe blow to the Constitution’s separation of powers. Under our system of government, Congress makes laws and the President, acting at times through agencies like EPA, ‘faithfully execute(s)’ them. U. S. Const., Art. II, §3; … The power of executing the laws necessarily includes both authority and responsibility to resolve some questions left open by Congress that arise during the law’s administration. But it does not include a power to revise clear statutory terms that turn out not to work in practice.

Hatch said:

Today, the Supreme Court repudiated the Obama administration’s effort to unilaterally rewrite the law in order to implement his radical job-killing agenda.

Congress already decisively rejected President Obama’s cap-and-trade plan and its massive energy taxes on American families.  Instead of listening to the concerns of the American people and their elected representatives, the President and his EPA clearly misconstrued the Clean Air Act to give the administration regulatory authority that Congress clearly prohibited.

By rejecting this blatant power grab, the Court reaffirmed the longstanding principle that the Constitution gives Congress alone the power to make the law, which the executive branch cannot override or disregard.

I applaud the Court’s willingness to stand up to President Obama’s brazen overreach.  This decision should be a wakeup call to everyone in Congress – Republican and Democrat – to stand up for the constitutional checks and balances against the President’s alarming pattern of lawlessness.

(Paragraph breaks added.)

Senator Lee said:

I am pleased that the Court has made clear that the EPA may not regulate all forms of greenhouse gas regulations.  Under this administration, the EPA has consistently pushed the limits of its already broad powers.  The Court’s decision shows that the judiciary will impose at least some limitations on that power, but much remains to be done and Congress must continue to carefully oversee this administration’s use of regulatory power.

Rep. Chris Stewart said:

Over the past several years, we’ve seen a growing trend from the Obama Administration and the EPA  to unilaterally change regulations and laws without any input from Congress — going against the very structure of our governmental system. I think today’s Supreme Court ruling is a mixed bag, but it does reaffirm the importance of the system of checks and balances, which our Founding Father’s intended. I hope this not only stops future EPA power grabs, but trickles down to all federal agencies.


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  • Alvin June 23, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    This is good news ! The EPA is out of control and needs to be reeled in.

  • Bender June 23, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    “Supreme Court rules against EPA for regulatory overreach; Utah congressmen remark”
    That’s the spin Lee and Stewart want to put on the decision(s) Joyce. Most mainstream press reports are reporting the Court gave the Obama administration most of what it wanted. To wit Scalia’s pronouncement “E.P.A. is getting almost everything it wanted in this case”.
    Is this supposed to be objective reporting or merely a regurgitation of the press releases cranked out by the kids in Stewart’s and Lee’s offices?

    • Joyce Kuzmanic June 23, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      I have an idea, Bender! Rather than taking the congressmen’s take on it, or that of St. George News or other media soundbites for that matter, I’d like to hear what you think after reading the decision.
      It’s attached as a PDF at the bottom of this report.
      Take a look at the first opinion given after the summary, there are two parts. After that are alternate opinions, some dissenting and some concurring with different reasoning – those do not set precedent but may inform future consideration of the issues.
      Give it a read and tell us what you think. I’m interested and I bet our other playground regulars will be too. Yes? 🙂

      • Bender June 23, 2014 at 10:01 pm

        Bender is less interested in the details and nuances of the Supreme Court’s EPA decision than he is in the extreme political polarization of the press releases coming out of our Republican congressional delegation’s offices and St. George News’ propensity to air these releases with no context or opposing view point.

        • LOL'd June 24, 2014 at 12:37 am

          Our congress representatives are …*, so that’s what we’re gonna get is …* opinions for uneducated utards… get it?
          Ed. ellipses: …*

        • Aliceyn June 24, 2014 at 7:00 am

          This was your chance to educate yourself, make an educated opinion, and then comment. Since you are “less interested in the details” how do you know for sure this report was without context, or an opposing viewpoint? You failed to rise to the challenge, giving us an idea of how valuable your opinion will be we see your comments in the future….

          • Bender June 24, 2014 at 9:27 am

            Who are you ALICEYN, the self-designated hall monitor who tattles on fellow students for failing to do their homework?
            I’m not surprised you miss the point of my post which is that Joyce takes press releases from Hatch, Lee and Stewart, puts them on a paper plate, warms them for 10 seconds in the microwave and then calls them fresh news.
            These hyper-partisan press releases from our congressional delegation’s offices are comical in their attempts to spin every significant DC happening as a sign of the failure of the executive branch and a great victory for the Senator/Congressman. They are by definition propaganda, not news.

          • Joyce Kuzmanic June 24, 2014 at 10:12 am

            Let me address that, Bender. You have raised this issue before and I’ve been remiss in not answering you.
            St. George News does publish statements released to us by officials elected by Southern Utah voters. Why? Because these are the voices representing at least a majority of Southern Utahns who voted or they would not be in office, no matter how their critics at any given moment may feel about them. And … we believe that thoughtful criticism is healthy.
            Since our epicenter for news coverage is focused on Southern Utah, we do not undertake to analyze, explore, fully develop the subject matter of many of those political and legislative issues playing out on the federal or even sometimes state level. It would distract us from our primary focus: local news.
            When we publish a release brought to us by your elected officials “as is,” we note they were submitted by the office of that senator or representative.
            Now, this particular report on the Supreme Court ruling on Utility Air v. EPA is our own – it includes Sen. Hatch’s comments that did come in via a press release, but the rest we obtained by contacting the congressmen directly. The summary of the holdings we included, derive from our own review of the Supreme Court judgment and quotes taken directly from Justice Scalia’s opinion written on behalf of the Court.
            There is purpose in what we publish, we have thought it through.
            I still would enjoy your thoughts after reading the opinion yourself, Bender. That’s what St. George News forums are presented for: conversation, differences, ideas. But you know that, you bring a lot to the table often and we count you our dear friend. 🙂

  • Bender June 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    No beef with you publishing press releases Joyce. In fact, I enjoy seeing the PR from Coconino County, National Park Service, USFS ,etc. that I otherwise might not see.
    My beef, and it still stands despite your explanation above, concerns this story. It still looks to me like a lightly warmed over press release, originally cooked up by priggish Young Republican interns in the bowels of the Hart Senate Building. If you take a press release and then follow up with questions to the same yahoos who wrote said press release, your story is probably going to taste and smell like a press release. My opinion is you that need to decide if you are publishing a press release or actually being a journalist. If it’s the later, context and opposing view points are prescribed by Dr. Bender.
    That being said, you are still my favorite local news editor, head and shoulders above the self-righteous Republican sycophant Gannett corporate toad at the Spectrum .

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