To SC: Current legislation does not authorize EPA to regulate fuel economy. Rather, EPA authorized itself by promulgating its December 2009 Endangerment Rule. EPA issued that rule pursuant to the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts v. EPA (April 2007). Although the Court did not order EPA to issue the rule, it authorized (and nudged) EPA to do so. In effect, the Court legislated from the bench so EPA could legislate from the bureau, as I explain here.
The House has passed legislation (H.R. 910) to block EPA’s implicit regulation of fuel economy for model years 2017 and later. However, the legislation needed 60 votes to pass in the Senate, and only got 50. The longer Congress waits to roll back EPA, the harder it will be to do so, because automakers and engine manufacturers are already making plans and investments to comply.
To Steve Davis: Your professional experience supports the argument of my February 2011 comment letter on EPA and NHTSA’s first-ever heavy-truck greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards. In a nutshell, EPA’s diesel emission standards, by directly reducing the fuel efficiency of diesel engines and by crowding out fuel economy-related R&D, created the very problem (stagnant fuel economy) the agencies claim they need more control over the trucking industry to solve!
To complete curmudgeon: Space alone (my column already exceeded the 800-word limit) precluded a discussion of solutions. Nobody here wants people to behave like polite serfs. But most citizens are too busy with work and family to monitor the machinations of activist bureaucrats and judges. They won’t know or care that EPA has gone rogue If people like me don’t write about it.
Only Congress can solve our EPA problem. As indicated above, the House passed H.R. 910, the Energy Tax Prevention Act, sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.). The bill would overturn all EPA greenhouse gas regulations except those automakers have already invested billions to comply with. There is little chance of enacting it under the reigns of Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in the Senate and Barack Obama in the White House, but things could change come November.
The long term solution is H.R. 10, the REINS Act, sponsored by Rep.Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky). It would restore Article I of the Constitution (which vests “all legislative powers” in Congress) by requiring Congress to approve major regulations before they can go into effect.
Phil Kerpen, my colleague at Americans for Prosperity, has written a brilliant book, Democracy Denied, that goes into the details.