Thursday, March 26, 2009

EPA Regulation vs. Congressional Legislation

Many believe that Congress is poised to create legislation to cap the amount of carbon dioxide that cars, power plants and other manufacturers can release into the atmosphere. EPA has signaled that it is ready to place regulatory controls on any emissions of heat-trapping gases by private citizens, small businesses or large corporations. Congressional legislation to limit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases would supplant the EPA’s new regulatory plan and guide how environmental protections were implemented.

Strange Bedfellows
Environmentalists and industries that rely on fossil fuels both support Congressional legislation over EPA regulation. Legislation would preclude another presidential administration from ignoring federal court decisions (i.e., Massachusetts v. EPA) or regulatory regimes. Industry also believes that legislation will be less restrictive and more flexible than being monitored and regulated by EPA.

EPA regulation has, in the past, been confined to pollutants that do damage on a regional level, like nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons and not pollutants on an international level, like carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping gases. The Clean Air Act, therefore, may not be sufficient to deal with the believed man-made causes of global climate change.

Teaching with the Constitution
Ask your students determine how federal legislation determines the scope and amount of power an executive agency has by reading Article I section 8, clause 3 and Article I section 8, clause 18 of the Constitution.

Ask your students to determine if the president must obey a Supreme Court decision by reading Article III and Article II of the Constitution and then reading about the Marbury v. Madison decision, which hinged on whether the president would defy the Supreme Court's decision.

Ask your students to join the conversation about global climate change and the Constitution at The Exchange online community.

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