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New EPA rule destroys separation of powers

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President Obama’s EPA has proposed new rules to govern emissions from existing coal-fired power plants, but a substantive rule such as this destroys the separation of powers doctrine at the heart of the U.S. Constitution and represents a mammoth power grab by the executive branch.

Obama’s new EPA rule forces the states to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030, yet the benefits to the environment will be negligible.

Article I, Section 1, of the Constitution begins, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States…”

WAIT A MINUTE! How can an agency just “come up” with a policy without some involvement by Congress? Doesn’t this clause say that all lawmaking power resides with Congress? Then how can the EPA simply impose a rule? Because Congress granted the EPA that power. But how is that constitutional? Can one branch transfer a constitutional duty to another branch through a piece of legislation such as the Environmental Protection Act? I would argue it cannot.

A law that destroys the separation of powers between the branches by attempting to assign legislative authority—the power to make laws or rules—to an executive agency is an unconstitutional law, Supreme Court decisions notwithstanding. Nine folks in black robes don’t trump common sense, and a lot of citizens in the U.S. can read. Making agency rules with NO congressional approval violates the separation of powers. It is unconstitutional and anyone who supports this model is just wrong.

When an agency drafts rules to implement an existing law—that is one thing. When it comes up with an entirely new policy with NO congressional input that is something else. Our founders would call it what it is: tyranny.

The online version of “Webster’s Dictionary 1828” defines tyranny as “Arbitrary or despotic exercise of power; the exercise of power over subjects and others with a rigor not authorized by law or justice, or not requisite for the purposes of government.”

This rule-making power grab by the EPA is not recognized by any grant of authority in our Constitution. It is tyranny, pure and simple.

Our Constitution describes three branches or departments of government: executive, legislative and judicial branches. The executive branch, led by the president, is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed” (Article II, Section 3). The president and his department heads are not authorized in the Constitution to make new laws. The legislative branch is to formulate the laws or establish policies and also appropriate money. The judicial branch is to act as a referee, to resolve controversies between opposing parties. Their function is to rule compliance, not establish news laws from the bench or craft new policies they think are especially wise.

Our officials today in the executive and judicial branches seek to establish their own policies, to usurp legislative authority. But this is not their job. Only the legislative branch has the delegated authority to legislate, and they can also control the other branches by limiting their jurisdiction (the courts), through appropriation of funds (courts and executive) and through laws that further define and direct the activity of the president and executive branch agencies.

Congress should repeal laws that grant extensive rulemaking authority to federal agencies and so-called independent commissions. They should put in place measures that require congressional approval of substantive agency rules on the grounds that agencies have no authority to come up with new policies on their own. Furthermore, Congress should stop passing vague laws that require dozens—or hundreds—of new rules to implement the law. If members of Congress cannot draft laws that can be understood and easily implemented, they should not pass the law. And members of Congress should begin to review every law they consider in light of Article I, Section 8. This section of the Constitution recognizes 23 areas of policy where Congress is permitted to legislate. If Article I, Section 8, does not recognize a subject for lawmaking by Congress, it is a state matter.

The 10th Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

If the subject is not mentioned in Article I, Section 8, it is not a federal matter. Congress has no authority to legislate on the matter, and neither does any other branch, since no other branch has the power to legislate. If something is not a delegated federal power, it is a state power and only the states or the people have the power to act on these matters.

It’s time for the people of the United States to wake up and read their Constitution with a clear mind and understanding. We, the people, need to start electing people to Congress who understand the Constitution. We have elected too many hypocrites to Congress. They swear to “uphold and defend” the Constitution, but they do not.

We, the people, must make changes at the ballot box. That is our responsibility in our system of limited, constitutional government. If we don’t make changes, tyranny will reign supreme.

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