Democracy or the EPA?

Last week in the Albuquerque Journal’s business section, reporter Winthrop Quigley wrote in something of a convoluted fashion about the fight over global warming and the potential for the US Environmental Protection Agency to act to limit carbon emissions regardless of Congressional action.

Quigley justifiably expressed concerns about the potential for the Obama Administration to skirt Congress, saying:

If he cares to, Obama will be able to avoid a lot of the pointless, stupid, ugly and unproductive debate that has afflicted health care legislation in Congress.

That is like electing to avoid a food fight by stepping into a minefield.

He goes on to discuss the demerits of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision which, as Quigley again rightly points out, has caused the abortion issue to fester for decades. Unfortunately, Quigley fails to point out that the US Constitution has a simple solution for all of this. I responded to all of this with a letter to the editor that appeared in paper today.

Letter appears below and can be found online here.

Stick with democracy

Winthrop Quigley made several good points about the frustrations (and benefits of working through the process) of “getting things done” in America’s political system (“Democracy’s Glacial Pace,” Dec. 14). His central point, that Obama should not use the EPA to push draconian restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions that he cannot achieve through the democratic process, is spot-on.

The good news for Quigley and our political leaders is that a road map exists for addressing issues as diverse as the environment and abortion: the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers wrote this document with the idea that while the states should be constrained by the federal government in military and trade, the states are the “laboratories of democracy” where a majority of both social and environmental policies should be made.

Unlike the federal government, the 50 states are not a monopoly. They have to compete with each other to formulate the best policies to attract citizens and businesses. Washington policymakers simply don’t face these pressures.

As much as I may oppose climate change legislation now moving through Congress and think that any such policies should be handled by the states, a move by President Obama to use an unelected bureaucracy to achieve his favored policy ends will result in nationwide outrage and even blatant disobedience. For all our sakes, I hope Obama sticks with democracy, regardless of its flaws.

Paul J. Gessing
President
Rio Grande Foundation
Albuquerque

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