Few federal officials have the kind of virtually unbridled power enjoyed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Merely by decreeing an action is merited, the EPA can increase the cost of living dramatically.
EPA abuse of that authority has intensified under President Barack Obama. He supports the agency's campaign to shut down coal-fired power plants that provide reasonably priced electricity to more than one-third of the nation.
A federal appeals court handed the agency another victory Tuesday. It ruled the EPA can go ahead with new limits on emissions of mercury and other substances from coal- and oil-fired power plants.
One judge on the court took issue with the EPA, however. "The problem here is that EPA did not even consider the costs" of its plan, Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote. "And the costs are huge, about $9.6 billion a year - that's billion with a b - by EPA's own calculation."
EPA officials' response was their actions should be based on health risks, not the cost to consumers.
But who defines "risk"? The EPA, of course.
It reminds one of the old comedy routine about such studies, adding up the numbers of people allegedly affected by something government wants to "protect" us against until the total vastly exceeds the number of people in a population.
This isn't funny, however - especially when it is noted the EPA never factors into the equation what consumers might do with money new rules cost them, had they been allowed to choose how to spend it.
In this case, ask yourself how much of the $9.6 billion a year might have been used for better health insurance, more regular visits to the doctor, healthier food or any number of things that might be beneficial.
Consumers don't get to choose, however.
When the EPA was established decades ago, Congress knew it was granting unprecedented authority. Since then, air, water and soil quality has improved exponentially, yet the EPA continues to claim it needs ever-more draconian rules.
Authority granted by Congress can be taken away by Congress. Why haven't our elected lawmakers done that?