EPA/DOT Admit — No, Boast — New Fuel Economy Standards Bypass Congress

by Marlo Lewis on November 21, 2011

in Features

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Federal agencies are not supposed to be overtly partisan. They are also not supposed to legislate. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood apparently didn’t get the memo. Or maybe they just don’t give a darn.

In a press release announcing their plan to raise fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, the agency heads boast: “Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama Administration is taking to strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to act” [emphasis added]. Jackson and LaHood even title their press release, “We Can’t Wait.”

‘What do we want? Energy independence! When do we want it? Now!’ Even if that means trashing the separation of powers, the essential constitutional foundation for accountable government.

Team Obama has turned the nation’s fuel economy law, the Energy Policy Conservation Act (EPCA), into a noncontrolling legal authority.

EPCA specifically limits the setting of fuel economy standards to “not more than 5 model years.” EPA and DOT plan to establish fuel economy standards for model years (MYs) 2017-2025 — a nine-year period. No matter how long government lawyers squint at the page, five does not mean nine.

To get around the five-year EPCA limitation, the administration invokes EPA’s alleged authority to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act (CAA). Yet EPCA delegates to DOT sole responsibility for prescribing fuel economy standards, and the CAA provides no authority for fuel economy regulation.

Contradictorily, EPA and DOT officials deny that greenhouse gas emission standards are even “related to” fuel economy standards. This easily refuted falsehood allows the administration to pretend that EPA did not defy EPCA when it authorized California and other states to regulate motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions.

The administration’s proposed MY 2017-2025 fuel economy standards, like the current MY 2012-2016 standards, are explicitly designed to “harmonize” with the California Air Resources Board’s greenhouse gas emission standards. But greenhouse gas emission standards implicitly regulate fuel economy, and EPCA prohibits states from adopting laws or regulations “related to” fuel economy.

By threatening to allow states to create a “patchwork” of conflicting fuel economy requirements, EPA frightened auto makers into supporting the agency’s greenhouse gas emission standards as the lesser regulatory evil. EPA then parlayed its new role as de-facto fuel economy regulator into a mandate to regulate greenhouse gases from from stationary sources.

To pull off these power grabs, Obama officials negotiated with auto makers, California, environmental groups, and union labor behind closed doorsin defiance of federal accountability statutes.

The agencies’ press release should be re-written as follows:

We can’t wait for Congressional Republicans to amend EPCA. We want more power over the auto industry and consumer choice. So we’re going to amend EPCA by administrative action. To thwart congressional oversight, we’re also going negotiate these deals, er, “Historic Agreements,” in the Chicago style — mum’s da woid. And if you auto guys don’t come along quietly, we’re gonna let the California Air Resources Board muss ya up.

Doc Freeman November 23, 2011 at 7:51 am

Obama said he wanted to go around Congress or in other words forget Congress even exist. He has instructed all his appointees to just go ahead and do what they want per his agenda of bringing down America so that George Soros can start his New World Order. That is the reason George Soros got him elected with help from the union. The unions want socialism and think Soros can help them get it, but they are to dumb to know that Soros wants His own World Order and is just using them. Soros does not care if BHO declares himself dictator he will take him down when the time is right.

bhs3kgt November 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm

If this is the kind oligarchical government we have in Obama’s 1st term, imagine what a second term would be like. Abolish EPA and hamstring DOT so they can’t make their own laws.

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