- - Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama’s abuse of his authority is being carried out by government bureaucrats running wild with power. Executive branch bureaucrats represent a serious threat to our liberty, and the new Republican Congress must pass legislation such as the REINS Act to rein in the excessive power wielded by the executive branch.

Climate change regulations being advanced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a case study justifying the need for the REINS Act as a way to counter Obama’s executive branch of power.

A new EPA memo discovered by Competitiveness Enterprise Institute senior fellow Chris Horner through a Freedom of Information request reveals how the agency uses propaganda to manipulate public opinion in order generate support for its regulatory climate change agenda. The March 2009 document urges the EPA to shift public communication concerns about climate change from “polar ice caps and polar bears” to respiratory illness, especially as it relates to children’s health.

The memo concludes by “highlighting the children’s health dimension to all of our major initiatives — we will also make this issue real for many Americans who otherwise would oppose many of our regulatory actions.”

Indeed, the EPA followed the recommendations of the strategy memo to the letter in promoting President Obama’s Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Leveraging October as Children’s Health Month, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy co-authored a post, “Acting on Climate Change for Our Children’s Sake,” in the Huffington Post.

The commentary totally ignores any reference to polar ice or polar bears. Instead, McCarthy liberally makes a full spectrum of adverse health claims from climate change with an emphasis on children’s health concerns, including asthma.

Exploiting children’s health concerns to generate public support for climate change regulations is outrageous and exposes the radical environmental zealotry that runs throughout the agency. Moreover, the extreme nature of the agency’s eagerness to engage in propaganda calls into question the EPA’s actions, including the agency’s interpretation of environmental statutes and science.

Clearly, if the agency is willing to twist language for maximum political impact, the EPA would be willing to twist the law and science to achieve its regulatory agenda. With such blatant use of propaganda by the EPA now is the time for Congress to drive a strong regulatory reform agenda to control the agency and other regulatory apparatus of the federal government.

The “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act” introduced by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and Representative Todd Young (R-IN), offers a great mechanism for Congress to have oversight over executive branch regulations.

The REINS Act would require Congress to approve major rules that cost more than $100 million of compliance costs per year before the regulations would take effect. Passing the REINS Act would solve the problem of executive branch agencies creating regulations that exceed Congressional intent.

Under today’s state of regulatory affairs, far too much power has been delegated to the executive branch with limited ability for Congress to impact the final regulation. Currently, unelected executive branch bureaucrats issue hundreds of rules that affect every aspect of our lives, and yet they are immune from our concerns.

The legislation corrects the imbalance of power by putting it back in the hands of the legislative branch where voters can hold their representatives directly accountable for regulations.

With climate change, Obama originally wanted to address this issue by advancing cap-and-trade legislation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The legislation passed in the House of Representatives in 2010 but it failed to pass in the Senate. Following the legislative defeat, Obama circumvented Congress and the will of the people by having the EPA regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

In an arrogant display of executive power after defeat of the bill, Obama said, “cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat,” and that he was going to find another way to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Using its interpretation of the Clean Air Act, the EPA met Obama’s goal by issuing proposed rules that aim to reduce carbon dioxide and new power plants.

The EPA’s proposed rules are fundamentally transforming electricity generation, resulting in higher prices and reduced reliability of the power grid. Regulations with such economic consequences are outside the purview of the executive branch and demonstrate the need for Congress to pass the REINS Act to control the regulatory abuse of power.

Tom Borelli, Ph.D. is a Senior Fellow with FreedomWorks and contributor with Conservative Review.

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