Budget Impasse Over EPA Worth Having

At the time of this writing it remains to be seen if the federal government will be subject to a partial shutdown due to budget wrangling in Congress. The difference in budget reduction dollar amounts has become almost meaningless as reductions in the $30 billion range are tiny compared to the trillions of dollars of red ink the federal government is piling up.

The fight over budget language that would limit the power of the Environmental Protection Agency to bypass Congress with a series of rulemakings that are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by making traditional fossil-fueled energy more expensive is a fight worth having, even if it results in non-essential federal employees being sent home.

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Some political commentators would have us believe this is a fight over political ideology, which at best is a misleading characterization. Rather the attempt by House lawmakers to reign in the authority of the EPA is more about standing on principal than on ideology. The separation of powers guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution is a principle too important to dismiss as an argument over political ideology.

Unelected bureaucrats in the EPA have clearly decided they know better than the elected representative in Congress. Congress has clearly rejected a cap-and-trade scheme to regulate greenhouse gas emissions due to its negative impact on the economy through increased energy costs with little to no environmental benefit. Undeterred, the EPA has decided to achieve the same goals as cap-and-trade through numerous rulemakings that will cost consumers and businesses hundreds of billions of dollars.

No matter what your view of man-caused global warming, energy policy decisions should be made by elected officials and not unaccountable federal employees. The EPA issue is based on both the budget and protecting a vital constitutional principle. If it takes a partial shutdown of the federal government to re-establish a balance of power in the federal government, so be it.