“Insanity” has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The folks at the Environmental Protection Agency must not be up on that definition as they keep churning out one unlawful and burdensome rule after another — and federal courts keep striking them down.
In fact, the courts have nixed no fewer than seven job-killing, economy-stalling EPA actions in recent months. That’s quite a track record, even for EPA. The latest rebuke came from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule set unjustifiably stringent standards mandating excessive emissions reductions by upwind states.
In addition, the court found that the EPA broke federal law by unilaterally imposing inflexible mandates on the states.
Under the Clean Air Act, it is the responsibility of states to determine how to meet certain air quality standards. We should be grateful that the court struck down the rule because, if implemented, it would have threatened the reliability of our power grid and imposed enormous costs on our already struggling economy.
Just two weeks earlier, another federal court rejected an effort by the EPA to seize control of Texas’ air quality permitting program — an effective regulatory framework that has been in place for more than 16 years.
A mantra that seems to be well known at the EPA is: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Occasionally, it works. In June, a federal court upheld the EPA’s right to regulate CO2 emissions under existing law. If the rule survives appeal, it will be the largest expansion of the EPA’s regulatory powers in the agency’s history.
Still, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will keep up the fight against all rules that threaten our recovery and job creation. We recently filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief urging the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the EPA’s $10 billion Utility MACT rule. Also known as “the blackout rule,” it would impose unreasonably stringent emissions standards that would lead to sweeping power plant closures and undermine the reliability of our power grid. The Chamber of Commerce will work to make sure the blackout rule meets the same fate as the EPA’s other unlawful, overreaching actions.
The Wall Street Journal recently argued that the string of defeats against the EPA show “that regulators must follow the laws of the United States. Why do federal judges constantly have to remind [the EPA] of this basic principle?” Put another way, W.C. Fields once said that if you “try, try again” and don’t succeed, “then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”
EPA, are you listening?
— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.