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SCOTUS Kicks the Fox Out of the Hen House: The Ruling of Virginia and North Dakota vs EPA

By Kathy Six

July 22, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Again!

As the Supreme Court continued making landmark rulings, West Virginia and North Dakota vs the EPA may have slipped under the radar for most Americans. In the scope of decisions, however, this ruling will have such a huge impact on Americans, it’s hard to deny how loud the slamming of the gavel will be for us all. The ruling came down with little fanfare, in spite of the concussive effect it will have.

Does the Constitution Give Blanket Authority to the EPA?

The question before the court was the power of agency outside of the legislative process. As noted by Rick Smead in an article from RBN Energy LLC…

“West Virginia, and North Dakota, along with two coal companies — asked the court to decide whether a particular provision in the Clean Air Act (CAA), Section 7411(d), which addresses standards of performance for existing stationary sources of air pollution, constitutionally gives blanket authority to the EPA to issue major rules on what kind of generators can run, without any limits on what it can require.”

U.S. Supreme Court Throws a Noose Around Environmental Agencies

Essentially, the ruling throws a noose around runaway agencies while loosening the one around Americans. It requires congress to participate if regulations are proposed and approve them. I’m not a rocket scientist, but the wheels of government grind slowly and the ability to churn out thousands of rulings in a few short years will not be child’s play.

Off Balance

We need only go back to President Carter and move forward to Biden to see regulatory obstreperousness by democratic presidents, Obama being the most egregious. We can include George W. Bush in that list in spite of his republican party representation. It is the mission of the republican party to reduce government from people’s lives and in this way, George W, behaved much like his democratic counterparts. In the graph pictured, we can clearly see the growth of regulatory rules as a way to govern rather than through the legislature. Obama clearly topped them all by no small margin. He grew the page count of regulations of his own record during his first term by 15,705 pages. Included in those 97,110 pages of regulations are a whopping 3,853 new rules or regulations. What makes this not only alarming but just plain ghastly is that there are no required oversight committees or legislators for these regulatory agencies. Essentially it’s the fox minding the chickens.

The Far Reach of the Supreme Court’s Decision That Regulatory Groups Are Too Far Reaching

SCOTUS ruled for Virginia and North Dakota that the EPA had overreached their rights to regulate emissions specifically regarding the types of generators that can be run and in what combinations. Up to this ruling, EPA had a blanket authority to make rules in the name of a clean environment. The EPA is not the only regulatory agency making rules with this same blanket authority. As a matter of fact, the number of agencies has not only skyrocketed, but the subcomponents of these agencies have also grown. According to, there are 137 independent executive agencies and 268 units in the Cabinet. Although there are slight differences in numbers of agencies based on the website, all are clear on one thing; there are too many.

No More Blanket Authority!

Subsequently, these agencies are creating more legislation than the entire legislative branch combined over a half a century. The Supreme Court recognized and stated that the blanket authority for agencies without congress oversight shall be no more. This doesn’t mean we will see agencies suddenly drop out of our government engine or that they will stop making regulations. It does mean, however, that any sweeping or large scale legislative rules cannot be made without the support of congress. How this will all play out in time will remain to be seen. We can celebrate, however, that runaway regulations are seeing a stop sign for the first time in a long time.

Analogy: If You Worked Here...

This ruling can all be really confusing. Let’s simplify the concept by seeing how this might look in a less complex setting. Suppose you work for a company with CEO, board of directors, management, and workers. All rules and regulations would be decided by managers who must have their decisions executed by the CEO. Managers are hired and fired based on how well the workers are satisfied with their management. The CEO’s position is also an "at will" employee situation based on the success of the business and its workers' satisfaction. Suddenly, the CEO decides to call in random groups who may or may not have ever done your job and the CEO gives them the power to make decisions about how you should do your job. They are given full authority to create rules and regulations that you must abide by, with or without the manager's blessing. The rules and regulations inhibit functioning and are often at odds with production. You might, in fact, be experiencing similar circumstances right now at your employment. There's more evaluating processes than actual processing going on. The results are never good.

The day comes when the board of the company meets and decides that managers must approve the majority of any new rules or regulations. Workers will have the option to come forward and challenge current systems that inhibit quality functioning of the company. The CEO is now on notice that new regulatory groups will be scrutinized by all. This is exactly the kind of relief our country just received in the latest Supreme Court Ruling.

Brighter Days Ahead!

How long it will take to feel the full benefits of the ruling of West Virginia and North Dakota vs the EPA is hard to say. We can look forward to the noose loosening around the necks of business owners, farmers, ranchers, oil companies, schools, car manufacturers, etc. Only time will tell how soon we can come out from under the crushing weight of regulatory agencies, however, the future looks just a little bit brighter today.


Kathy Six - Teacher with a Master’s Degree in Gifted and Talented Students. Community involved at her lifelong residence of Fruitport, Michigan. Married to her husband Scott for 40 years and has two married children and four grandchildren. Kathy loves to hunt, fish, playing softball, and reads everything and anything she can get her hands on.


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