February 10, 2016 12:13 PM
The Supreme Court has ruled the Obama Administration overstepped its authority with new EPA regulations that would affect the coal fueled power plants. This has direct implications for Georgia, and looks to be setting up a possible trend where the Supreme Court begins to assert its own power in an attempt to contain the powers of the Executive branch. First with Georgia:
The move by the court’s five conservative members was a shock to environmentalists, who had hoped the justices would deny — as a federal appeals court did last month — a petition filed by 29 mostly Republican-led states and industry leaders.
Now the Environmental Protection Agency must halt enforcement of the so-called “Clean Power Plan” until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decides on the merits of the GOP-industry lawsuit against it. Oral arguments are set for early June.
Even if the plan is upheld at the lower court, it could not be implemented until the Supreme Court has had the final word. That likely would push the battle into 2017 or beyond.
One of the states backing the lawsuit is Georgia, with Attorney General Sam Olens sending this reaction over:
“This is a victory against an out of control Environmental Protection Agency. We will continue to fight this executive overreach which will put Americans out of work and drive up the cost of electricity for consumers.”
25 States challenged the EPA’s power plan on Oct. 23, 2015, the day it was published. The states argue the EPA exceeded its authority by double regulating coal-fired power plants and forcing states to fundamentally shift their energy portfolios away from coal-fired generation among other reasons.
The West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was also instrumental in the fight as his state is in the heart of coal country, noting “Unfortunately, the impact of the regulation has already been felt in the Mountain State.”
Georgia’s PSC members that regulate new plant construction have long favored a diversified basket of sources to produce power, but have lamented the increasing coal regulations with at least one PSC member privately citing the regs as reason he would never vote to approve construction of another coal powered plant.
There’s a bigger issue here that is less Georgia specific and much more related to our ongoing Presidential election. Those looking at this as a “loss” for the Obama administration are missing the point. The President will not be in office one year from now. It could very easily be a President from a different party. There’s still a chance it could be the authoritarian Donald Trump. Does that interest you in limits on executive power? Good, let’s continue.
The Supreme Court is also set to review the President’s decision to not enforce certain immigration laws. Another proposed rule from the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA regarding the Waters of the United States has been given an indefinite stay from implementation from a federal judge and may be headed toward SCOTUS for a ruling as well.
The overall point in the above pattern is this: There are many who believe it is Congress that is supposed to be overruling the President and keeping his powers in check. While they do have some tools at their disposal, the courts are a separate but equal branch of the federal government. And it looks like they’re willing to exert some authority over the Presidency to keep the powers within their constitutional guidelines. This is a route that needs to be traveled more often, rather than continuous speeches from the legislative branch by those who have neither the power nor the strategy to stop many of the abuses.