One of President Obama’s Harvard Law School mentors is aggressively opposing the federal government’s climate change agenda in federal court.
Professor Laurence H. Tribe, who has praised Barack Obama as one of his best-ever research assistants back in the day, is nonetheless challenging the president’s Environmental Protection Agency coal industry regulations.
Last June, the EPA released regulations that would limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 30 percent over 15 years. The proposed regs due to take effect in June 2015 after a lengthy comment period face opposition to some degree from both sides of the political aisle along with legal challenges. Critics claim that outcome — which would only reduce carbon emissions by 1.8 percent at the endpoint — will be more than 200,000 jobs lost along with the economy taking an annual hit of $51 billion, along with sharper higher electricity rates for consumers.
A very respected and experienced constitutional law scholar and litigator who is on the liberal end of the ideological spectrum, Tribe represented the Al Gore campaign in the famous 2000 presidential election Supreme Court case as well as advocating for the current administration in the Obamacare lawsuit.
According to Tribe’s testimony before a U.S. House committee, however, the EPA regs, a set of climate change rules that lack approval by Congress, are equivalent to “burning the Constitution” because they exceed what is allowed by the agency under the federal Clean Air Act.
A New York Times report suggests that many of the high-profile professor’s “angry and bewildered” colleagues at Harvard, and Democrats in general, think he has become Benedict Arnold because Tribe is lawyering for coal producer.
“Mr. Tribe, 73, has been retained to represent Peabody Energy, the nation’s largest coal company, in its legal quest to block an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that would cut carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s coal-fired power plants — the heart of Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda. Next week Mr. Tribe is to deliver oral arguments for Peabody in the first federal court case about Mr. Obama’s climate change rules… Mr. Tribe dismissed the criticism and said that his brief and comments reflect his views as a constitutional scholar, not as a paid advocate for the coal company.”
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed in December, Tribe claimed credit for teaching the first environmental law class ever in the U.S. and insisted that he was a long-time supporter of the environmental movement. He added, however, that the government must abide by the U.S. Constitution.
“In my view, coping with climate change is a vital end, but it does not justify using unconstitutional means… the EPA, like every administrative agency, is constitutionally forbidden to exercise powers Congress never delegated to it in the first place. The brute fact is that the Obama administration failed to get climate legislation through Congress. Yet the EPA is acting as though it has the legislative authority anyway to re-engineer the nation’s electric generating system and power grid. It does not.”
Prof. Tribe said he is still a fan of his former student. “It hasn’t affected my esteem for [Obama], but I don’t take responsibility for views of former students that I think are misguided.”
[Photo by Alex Wong, Hulton Archive/Getty Images]