Following the Republican Senate majority’s humiliating failure to advance a House bill that would have de-funded the implementation of Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, you might expect Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to steer clear of any issue relating to the president’s executive authority. But that presumption significantly underestimates the majority leader’s chutzpah.
In an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader, McConnell issued a stinging critique of the administration’s carbon emissions regulations that will be enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. In that piece, McConnell accused the administration of seeking to reduce America’s ability to produce energy “under the guise of protecting the climate.”
“The regulation is unfair. It’s probably illegal. And state officials can do something about it; in fact, many are already fighting back,” the Senate majority leader wrote. He went on to advise every state government to exercise its authority to limit the implementation of these regulations.
For starters, the legal basis for this regulation is flimsy at best. As iconic left-leaning law professor Laurence Tribe put it, the administration’s effort goes “far beyond its lawful authority.” And even in the unlikely event that the regulation does pass legal muster, it’s difficult to conceive how a plan imposed from Washington would be much different from what a state might develop on its own.
Since the Obama administration has already decreed that it will be the judge of whether a plan is acceptable or not, it’s hard to see the White House agreeing to much that diverges from its ideological agenda.
Just consider how extreme this regulation is. According to a respected group of economists, the regulation could cost our country about a third of a trillion dollars in compliance costs and cause electricity price hikes in nearly every state.
And who gets hit hardest when energy bills go up? Lower-income families. Seniors on Social Security and a fixed budget. Those who struggle just to get by. These are the people the administration has chosen to attack.
The EPA concedes that the states have been afforded some leeway in determining how to meet new carbon emissions guidelines, but that flexibility is not aimed at creating loopholes that would allow some states to circumvent the rules entirely.
“Each state has different targets they must reach in curbing emissions, and each is required to submit a design plan for those reductions to the EPA based on the energy makeup of the state,” The Hill reported. “The EPA contends the plan affords states flexibility and can cut emissions as they see fit. Rather than shutting power plants, states have the ability to build up solar or wind, or launch energy efficiency programs.”
McConnell will find that the EPA presents a ripe target for criticism. “In a withering ruling on Monday, a federal judge scored the Environmental Protection Agency for its contempt for its legal obligation to disclose documents and then lying to the courts about its stonewalling,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board observed.
Echoing the questions raised by Hillary Clinton’s failure to abide by federal regulations governing the use of secure and archivable email systems, the EPA, too, has apparently engaged in an effort to avoid having to comply with FOIA requests.
The judge concludes that the EPA either “intentionally sought to evade Landmark’s lawful FOIA request so the agency could destroy responsive documents, or EPA demonstrated apathy and carelessness toward Landmark’s request. Either scenario reflects poorly upon EPA and surely serves to diminish the public’s trust in the agency.” He denied Landmark’s petition for punitive sanctions only because there is no conclusive proof the agency acted in bad faith.
It’s a shame that the majority leader does not enjoy more credibility among Republicans following his ignominious retreat in the face of minority Democratic opposition. If he did, he might find more Republicans willing to take him up on this call to action.