Chairman Schlapp Testifies At EPA Against Harmful Carbon Rule

Published Date: 
Tue, 2014-07-29

Washington, DC - Today, ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp delivered the following remarks to the Environmental Protection Agency's Public Hearing on its proposed carbon scheme. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak for a few minutes today. My name is Matt Schlapp and I am the Chairman of the American Conservative Union—the ACU. ACU is our country’s oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization, and we are deeply concerned about EPA’s proposed carbon scheme. ACU believes that EPA’s proposal is flawed for a wide range of reasons, many of which have been discussed by other speakers. In particular, we believe that the proposal is yet another example of executive overreach and a violation of the principles of cooperative federalism. EPA’s proposal is an unacceptable example of executive overreach. Issues such as climate change policy involve complicated issues that touch on all aspects of our economy and lives. Decisions how and whether to create laws of this breadth should be made by our representative branches of government, not by unelected federal agency officials. In fact, the only reason this proposal is under consideration by EPA is because attempts to reshape our energy sector and economy through legislation have failed. The President is unabashedly attempting to circumvent the will of the people and Congress through regulatory fiat—proposing hundreds of pages of new regulations based on a provision in the Clean Air Act that has never been used for a regulatory approach this broad. And, while ACU appreciates this chance to speak, these public sessions are poor substitutes for democratic deliberation and debate by elected officials in the States and in Congress. The bottom line is that if the goal is to make sound policy, our democratic system is the right tool to use, not bureaucratic fiat. Overall, ACU shares Justice Scalia’s recent statement that EPA rules should be viewed with skepticism when the agency “discover[s] in a long-extant statute an unheralded power to regulate ‘a significant portion of the American economy.” This proposal by EPA is just such a rule, converting 300 words of statutory language into hundreds of pages of regulatory mandates touching on every aspect of the modern economy. This proposal should be rejected because it turns the proper relationship between Congress and executive agencies on its head—making EPA more powerful than Congress and a tool that the President can use to bypass the represented branch of our government. This is undemocratic, unlawful, and unacceptable. The EPA proposal is also insupportable because it violates the basic tenants of cooperative federalism. Our Constitution entrusts States with most topics, and States should be able to make policies regarding electricity dispatch, generation, and efficiency without being second-guessed by the EPA. Although EPA and supporters of this proposal have touted its flexibility, this proposal makes State governments subservient to the EPA—with states having to seek EPA approval for their policies on topics ranging from how electricity is generated, to state tax policies related to energy, to how companies and households use electricity. Even more disturbing, at recent testimony before Congress, EPA Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe confirmed that State legislatures will have to obtain EPA sign-off on legislation that they adopt through normal democratic means. Making State legislatures accountable to EPA for every aspect of energy and electricity policy makes a mockery out of the founder’s conception of federalism. To serve as laboratories of democracy, as our founders envisioned, States must be free to develop policies appropriate for their people without always having to ask EPA’s permission. Giving states rigid carbon targets and telling them to submit their plans for reaching those targets is not cooperative and it is not federalism. It is a form of centralized energy planning that is inconsistent with our federalist system and should be rejected. EPA has not been given the power, and does not have the expertise to engage in the time of centralized economic and energy planning that this proposal represents. If adopted, ACU fears that this proposal will deliver no real benefits to health or the economy, and will further erode the proper relationship between the executive and legislative branches, and the states and the federal government. EPA should withdraw this proposal and cease trying to find ways to use limited grants of authority as tools to circumvent Congress and control state governments. Thank you.