WASHINGTON - Those who believe federal agencies are out-of-control and riding roughshod over their constitutional limits were before the U.S. Supreme Court Monday with yet another case to rein in one of those agencies.
This time they were asking the justices to put the brakes on the Environmental Protection Agency, arguing that their power could eventually become, if left unchecked, massive micro-managing of America to regulate greenhouse gases.
In a past case, the Court indicated it wants the EPA to fight global warming and treat carbon dioxide emissions like a pollutant.
But those filing suit warn if the EPA isn't shackled by proper laws, it could end up having draconian control over almost anything in America that uses power and emits carbon.
The questions in this case, Utility Air Regulatory v. Environmental Protection Agency, are incredibly complex. But for opponents of the EPA, they simply see this as another incredible overreach and case of over-regulation by one more agency of the Obama administration.
One lawyer fighting the EPA's unchecked go-it-alone ways said if America wants to regulate greenhouse gases, its lawmakers alone have the right to create laws for the EPA to enforce.
"Our expectations as citizens would be that Congress would take actions on issues of national interest," Shannon Goessling, chief counsel of the Southeastern Legal Foundation, said outside the Court after the hearing.
"If this is an issue that needs to be addressed, Congress has the ability and authority to address it," she said.
"If it is something the Environmental Protection Agency has authority and discretion to address, they are welcome to address it," she continued. "But you can't take authority where authority hasn't been vested by Congress."
But those friendlier to the EPA say this is a case of businesses that just don't want regulators trying to control industries' carbon emissions.
"Industry has sued against every action by this administration on any aspect of greenhouse gas regulation," Bill Snape, an environmental law professor at American University, said. "There is nothing it seems that industry likes about any aspect of greenhouse regulation. That really is the backdrop."
Critics warn this is just another case of an out-of-control administration ignoring the U.S. Constitution by making its own laws.
"We certainly do have grievous concerns about the over-regulation and the declaration by the president of the United States he's going to use his pen and his phone to accomplish that which he is unable to accomplish through congressional action," Goessling said. "The role of the president is to inform Congress and to ask Congress to take action."
Left to make up its own regulations, opponents say the EPA could someday announce those regulations allow it to control carbon emissions by 6.1 million American sources of such emissions, like schools, hospitals and churches.