If Congress can’t pass Obama’s liberal agenda, these people will likely impose it.
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“The left did for labor issues what the right wanted to do for prayer in school and that’s to take the normal courts out of it,” Norquist said. “Who do you appeal to then? Is the Congress going to overrule [Becker] when he makes those decisions? No. Is the White House going to overrule him? No. The courts don’t get to play.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) placed a hold on Becker’s nomination in October, and his confirmation was still pending as of this writing.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND ENERGY POLICY are two other areas in which the Obama administration is seeking to use the existing regulatory apparatus to achieve what they may not be able to through congressional action. In June, the House of Representatives passed “cap and trade” legislation aimed at combating global warming by limiting carbon emissions, as eight Republicans crossed over to make up for the 44 Democrats who voted against it. The legislation is now bogged down in the Senate, where it faces a tougher route to passage. But regardless of what happens in Congress, the administration is already laying the groundwork to limit carbon emissions.
Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, made these intentions clear in her opening memo to employees in January 2009. “EPA will stand ready to help Congress craft strong, science-based climate legislation that fulfills the vision of the President,” she wrote, adding, “As Congress does its work, we will move ahead to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing EPA’s obligation to address climate change under the Clean Air Act.”
The Supreme Court decision Jackson referred to is Massachusetts v. EPA. Decided in 2007, the Court ruled that, pending a finding of “endangerment,” the EPA was required to regulate greenhouse gases in new vehicles. Obama appointed the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit, Lisa Heinzerling, to be senior policy counsel on climate change at the EPA, a position that does not require confirmation. In her speeches and academic writings, Heinzerling has advocated an unabashedly activist role for the federal government in regulating carbon emissions.
Heinzerling is a leading critic of employing economic cost-benefit analysis to justify environmental regulations, and she addressed the subject in a book she co-authored in 2004, titled Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing. In a May 2008 article for the environmentalist news and commentary site Grist, Heinzerling explained why cost-benefit analysis was an inadequate way of responding to environmental crisis.
“Cost-benefit analysis is a deeply flawed device that has never been the environmentalist’s friend,” Heinzerling wrote. “It impedes rather than aids understanding of the concrete consequences of regulations. It would behoove the next president — and all who value environmental protection — to do more than fiddle around the margins of old debates, and to question whether a decision-making framework that can stare environmental catastrophe in the face and declare it ‘efficient’ is really the best we can do.”
Heinzerling has gone so far as to argue that since global warming kills people, a failure to address it is tantamount to somebody not acting on prior knowledge that a homicide is going to take place.
“Knowledge that death and suffering will result from our actions leads uncontroversially to a moral obligation to change our behavior,” Heinzerling wrote in a 2008 article for the Georgetown Law Journal. “In the United States, knowing killing is condemned in the criminal laws of all 50 states, in modern regulatory laws at the federal level, and in civil jury awards in tort cases. These laws embody a moral commitment against knowing killing that, in traditional criminal contexts, is uncontroversial. It should be no more controversial when it occurs on a global scale.”
More specifically, even though the Massachusetts v. EPA decision involved emissions from new cars, Heinzerling made it clear in March 2008 testimony before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming that her view is that the ruling applies broadly to all carbon emissions.
“There is little doubt that many categories of stationary sources — including, for example, power plants — emit greenhouse gases and thus ‘cause’ air pollution, which the Administrator has concluded endangers public health and welfare,” Heinzerling said. “Under section 111, the Administrator ‘shall’ include these sources on a list and then ‘shall’ regulate them.”
ANOTHER EPA APPOINTEE, Stephen Owens, who has already been confirmed as the assistant administrator for toxic substances, took an expansive view of regulatory authority when serving as director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality from 2003 to 2009. In an April 2008 decision, Judge Edward Burke of Arizona’s Maricopa County Superior Court ruled that Owens’s agency “exceeded its legal authority when it sought to set acceptable emission levels for more than six dozen chemicals,” according to a report by the Arizona Daily Star. “Burke said state lawmakers never gave the agency or DEQ’s director, Steve Owens, the power to do any of that. In fact, Burke said he reads the state statutes to actually prohibit the rules.”
Owens has also been active on the global warming front, and his ties with Al Gore date back to 1980, when as student at Vanderbilt Law School he worked for the then congressman. “I wound up spending the summer working on the Superfund legislation that Al Gore was a primary sponsor of,” Owens said in an interview with the Washington Post’s Who Runs Gov website. “It was one of the best jobs I ever had.” After finishing law school, he became counsel to the House Science and Technology Investigations and Oversight subcommittee, which Gore chaired.
When in Arizona, Owens co-chaired the Western Climate Initiative, a partnership of several West Coast states and Canadian provinces aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2020. “People talk about sacrifices, they talk about impact, they talk about people paying more,” Owens said in an interview about the initiative with the Cronkite News Service, a project of Arizona State University. “You haven’t seen significant costs until you see what might happen 40 or 50 years from now if we don’t do something now to control greenhouse gas emissions.”
Kenneth Green, an environmental scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said of the Obama administration EPA that “They don’t have the ultimate authority to implement cap and trade themselves.” Instead, “they’ll implement regulations and efficiency standards all over the place.”
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In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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