Webb Comes Out Against EPA Regulation of Greenhouse Gases


As I reported earlier, it looks likely that Virginia Democrat Jim Webb will support Republican Lisa Murkowski’s efforts to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide emissions. Webb’s office won’t state whether he has or will formally sign on to Murkowski’s measure. But it just issued a statement to Mother Jones explaining that the senator opposes EPA regulation of greenhouse gases—not on environmental grounds, but due to his concerns about the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches:

Senator Webb has shared with Senator Murkowski his concerns about the EPA’s latest finding, concerning the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions, in the absence of clear congressional involvement and direction. Since his campaign for the U.S. Senate, one of Senator Webb’s principal themes has been to restore and maintain the proper balance of power between the executive branch and Congress. Senator Webb advanced similar arguments, concerning congressional engagement and approval, in August 2008 during the Bush Administration’s negotiation of the Iraq Security Agreements.

He has said on related issues for many years that the regulatory power of the executive branch is derived specifically from the legislative branch. It should be applied narrowly and in strict conformity with the Constitution and clear legislation enacted by the Congress. An executive branch decision to broadly interpret a legislative statute—especially one involving sweeping implications for our country—without such direction from Congress is inappropriate.

By citing the Iraq Security Agreements, Webb is referring to the attempt by the Bush administration in 2008 to unilaterally forge a long-term security arrangement with the government of Iraq. This comparison—and Webb’s contention that the administration would be abusing executive authority by using the EPA to restrict emissions—is an inaccurate one: The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA has been granted the authority by Congress, via the Clean Air Act, to regulate carbon dioxide.

 

Fact:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation so we can keep on doing the type of journalism that 2018 demands.

Donate Now
  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.