I often say that the EPA regards itself as above the law, and there’s ample evidence of that today.
First, the EPA has sent its long-awaited proposed rule for regulating greenhouse gases (Greenwire subscription req’d.) to the White House today. In drafting the rule, they have admitted that the threshold for triggering regulations under the Clean Air Act of 250 tons emitted is so low as to cause regulatory chaos, so they have chosen to ignore the statute and arbitrarily raise the limit to 25,000 tons. As Greenwire notes:
[Bush-era EPA General Counsel Roger] Martella and others have expressed concerns that EPA may face questions about its legal authority to raise the threshold from the 250 tons stipulated in the Clean Air Act.
Indeed. As my colleague Marlo Lewis notes in his comments on the proposed rule (see here, p. 35), the EPA has no authority to reinterpret the plain wording of the statute and the Courts have rejected EPA’s attempts to do so on the basis of “administrative necessity” in the past.
Meanwhile, the EPA has also decided that it can reward religious institutions with an Energy Star rating. Amendment I to the Constitution has been repeatedly intepreted by the Courts as the government being unable to favor one religion over another. If certain religions use less energy than others, and that seems likely to be the case with, for instance, 24-hour charismatic adorations or synagogues with Eternal lights, then I can’t see how this doesn’t cross the line of establishment as defined by the Courts.
But if your mission is saving the world, of course you’d find things like statutes and constitutions irritating, wouldn’t you?