MAR 09, 2021
(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – March 9, 2021 - South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has joined a Missouri-led coalition of 12 states in filing suit against President Joe Biden’s administration over massive expansion of federal regulations through executive order, potentially impacting nearly every aspect of the economy and every South Carolinian’s household.
“One of the main parts of my job is to uphold the Constitution, so we’ve fought against federal overreach in both Democratic and Republican administrations,” Attorney General Wilson said. “These executive orders would take authority that the Constitution gives only to Congress. We cannot, and will not, ignore the Constitution.”
“Manufacturing, agriculture, and energy production are essential to South Carolina’s economy and employ thousands of hard-working South Carolinians across the state. Under President Biden’s executive order, which he didn’t have the authority to enact, these hard-working South Carolinians, who have lived and worked this land for generations, could be left in the dust,” said Attorney General Wilson. “From higher energy bills to lost jobs, this massive expansion of federal regulatory power has the potential to impact nearly every household in this state, which is why I joined a coalition of states to put a stop to this executive order and protect South Carolina families.”
The lawsuit, which challenges President Biden’s Executive Order 13990, titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis,” alleges that the Biden Administration did not have the authority to issue binding numbers for the social costs of greenhouse gases to be used in federal regulations, and that the potential stringency of federal regulations that could come from this executive order will stifle manufacturing, harm agriculture, and have serious economic impact across the country.
Two industries that will be impacted by President Biden’s executive order, manufacturing and agriculture, are two of the largest industries in South Carolina. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, total manufacturing output in South Carolina in 2018 was almost $39 billion and accounted for almost 250,000 jobs. And according to the South Carolina Department of Commerce, South Carolina’s agricultural industry contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy each year and employs around 68,000 people across the state.
The lawsuit notes that the interagency working group’s interim values, assuming similar rates of emission between 2019 and 2020 in the United States and a discount rate of 3%, place the social cost of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide at approximately $9.5 trillion - $269 billion for carbon dioxide, $990 billion for methane, and $8.24 trillion for nitrous oxide.
The suit states, “In practice, this enormous figure will be used to justify an equally enormous expansion of federal regulatory power that will intrude into every aspect of Americans’ lives—from their cars, to their refrigerators and homes, to their grocery and electric bills. It will be used to inflict untold billions or trillions of dollars of damage to the U.S. economy for decades to come. This regulatory expansion will stifle energy production, strangle America’s energy independence, suppress agriculture, destroy millions of jobs, deter innovation, and impoverish millions.”
The states argue in the lawsuit that using these interim values could massively expand the scope and reach of the regulatory power of the federal government, potentially impacting the United States economy and every household in America.
According to the lawsuit, “The potential regulatory impact of such staggering numbers is enormous. These numbers are high enough to potentially justify virtually any regulatory restriction on energy production, energy use, agricultural practice, or any other economic activity that results in the emission of such gases. In fact, if agencies follow President Biden’s directive that the agencies “shall” use these Interim Estimates in their rulemakings and other regulatory activities, that use will inevitably result in highly restrictive regulatory policies in innumerable areas.”
In arguing that President Biden’s administration did not have the authority to enact this executive order and that this action should be taken by Congress, the lawsuit points to several reasons, including that the executive order did not have statutory authorization to create the working group, nor did the working group have statutory authority to set values for the social costs of carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide that “shall be used by regulatory agencies administering statutes pursuant to statutory delegation of authority enacted by congress.”
Further, the lawsuit states that dictating binding values for the social costs of carbon, nitrous oxide, and methane is a legislative action “that the Constitution vests exclusively in Congress through the vesting clause of Article I, § 1 of the Constitution.” The President’s exercise of this legislative authority thus violates the separation of powers, the most fundamental bulwark of liberty.
The lawsuit also alleges that the Working Group violated the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. The lawsuit points to the fact that there was no public notice or opportunity for public comment before publishing interim estimates, and that the proper weight was not given to the positive benefits of “affordable and reliable domestic energy and agricultural production.”
The full lawsuit can be found here.
In addition to South Carolina, state attorneys general from Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah joined the suit.
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