EPA is on a 'constitutionally reckless mission,' Obama's law professor testifies

The law professor, who taught President Obama says the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the statutory and constitutional authority to force states to implement plans to cut carbon emissions at existing power plants. 

“In my considered view, EPA is off on a constitutionally reckless mission,” Laurence Tribe, a professor at Harvard Law School, said in prepared remarks at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing on Tuesday.

Tribe was hired to write comments on the rule by Peabody Energy Corp., the largest coal-mining company in the world. 


The rule, EPA proposed in June, seeks to cut the power sector’s carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030. Under the rule, states would have one year to create and adopt implementation plans.

“This submissive role for the states confounds the political accountability that the Tenth Amendment is meant to protect,” Tribe said in his remarks. “EPA’s plan will force states to adopt policies that will raise energy costs and prove deeply unpopular, while cloaking those policies in the Emperor’s garb of state “choice” – even though in fact the polices are compelled by EPA.”

While Subcommittee Chair Rep. Ed WhitfieldWayne (Ed) Edward WhitfieldBottom Line Why Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? MORE (R-Ky.) agreed with Tribe, calling EPA’s plan "a violation of existing law,” not everyone on the committee views the rule as federal overreach.

“Climate change is here," said Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.). “We need to take action and we need to take it now.”

McNerney said the EPA rule would force the creation of new technologies and put the U.S. in a leadership role in the world’s efforts to curb climate change.

“I know the coal producers are worried about this, but my advice to them is to embrace carbon sequestration,” he said.