With all the focus on the US Supreme Court over abortion, many have missed another decision that has just as much global significance.
A week after its momentous overturning of Roe v Wade, the US Supreme Court ruled that a government agency could not regulate the carbon emissions of coal-fired power stations.
The decision was another blow to the stumbling net-zero agenda.
Already Europe is reopening coal-fired power stations, China and India are planning to expand their coal production by 700 million tonnes a year and now the Biden Administration has no legislative authority to enforce its climate agenda.
This should all send a loud message to the new Labor government. Their ongoing efforts to shut down our coal-fired power stations will just drive up our electricity prices, with no corresponding benefit to the global environment.
The Supreme Court ruling also made the strong case for why government agencies should not be permitted to go beyond the clear intent that is provided to them by the people’s representatives in Parliament.
The US Environmental Protection Agency created a new rule in 2015 that would require coal-fired power stations to reduce their output to meet carbon emissions limits. They made the rule under an hitherto obscure section of its act that allowed it to set emissions limits for “pollutants”.
The Supreme Court found, however, that the US Congress had not given a clear intent to the EPA to set these limits in ways that would, in effect, shut down coal-fired power stations.
The EPA’s rule had breached the “major questions doctrine” which states that a clear statement is necessary for a decision “of this breadth to regulate a fundamental sector of the economy.”
We could do with more use of the major questions doctrine in Australia too.
Our farmers, miners and small businesses are often subject to the creeping tyranny of government bureaucrats acting well beyond the powers provided by Parliament.
Regulators in the Great Barrier Reef have stopped fishing projects based on ridiculous chemical limits.
A farm was stopped in Cape York because of environmental offset requirements that would have bankrupted the project. Financial regulators are now making banks and companies consider “climate change”.
And a coalmine in New South Wales was stopped because of the Paris Agreement on climate change, even though no Parliament has ratified that agreement.
Another coalmine was temporarily shelved last year when a judge found that the Minister had a “duty of care” to control carbon emissions under federal environmental law.
That was despite the government telling the Parliament during the debate that carbon emissions were NOT being addressed by these laws.
Fortunately that decision has been overturned, but even when corrected activist judges and bureaucrats create risk for business and deter future investment.
These questions are even more relevant given Labor’s sneaky announcement on the eve of the election to establish an EPA here.
This no doubt will be another green trojan horse to stop people being able to run their farms and businesses according to their rights.
People have lost trust in political institutions because they suspect they no longer respond to the wishes of the people.
With the rise of activist judges and bureaucrats their suspicions are often correct.
The best way to restore trust in democracy is to let democracy work, and constrain our judiciary and bureaucracy to only act in ways where they have been given a clear authority from the people to do so.