Last week the Supreme Court released a decision in West Virginia vs. EPA, that declared our independence from federal agencies who abuse their regulatory powers. For almost 100 years the power of administrative agencies has grown as Congress has resorted to passing vague laws. When we are fighting to protect outdoor recreation at BRC, 9 out of 10 times we are dealing with an administrative agency. Usually these administrative agencies are acting through their regulatory power.
While the full impact of this recent decision is still being debated, a consensus is clear that this decision will likely result in opportunities for scrutiny of existing regulatory powers for federal agencies. The Court made it clear that agencies don’t have authority to make substantial policy decisions without clear guidance from Congress.
For example, if Congress hasn’t given explicit authorization to create Subpart C travel management rules to regulate snowmobiling, then if you’re the Forest Service, you might not have the regulatory authority to create these rules.
This is a win for the American people, who have substantially lost their voice in a regulatory state where most major government decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats. No NEPA process, no public comment period, and no appeal through an administrative court is an adequate substitute for being able to unelect someone who is abusing their power and making decisions that hurt people.
The Supreme Court sent a strong signal to Congress that it needs to start doing its job. Hopefully they get the message. If they do, we need to be ready to add a strong collective voice to any Congressional debates.
The need for this collective voice is why we need everyone to be an official member of BRC:
The Court also sent the signal that it might be time to revisit so many regulatory powers that have been abused and normalized through administrative will, instead of clear statutory guidance from Congress.
The Supreme Court has opened the door for a new future for the work we do at BRC. There is a real opportunity to be creative and play offense as opposed to the defensive role we often play. We are currently developing aggressive plans to grow our legal program, so we can rise to the moment. We are reviewing our previous case files and surveying the current legal landscape to identify ways that we can ensure that BRC is playing an active role in shaping the new future.
We’re not going to miss this opportunity. We have big announcements coming soon. We’ve been fighting since 1987, and I can honestly say that the next 5 years could be some of the most important years in the history of our organization.