A week ago Governor Inslee issued Executive Order 14-04 to implement, “WASHINGTON CARBON POLLUTION REDUCTION AND CLEAN ENERGY ACTION”
Governor Inslee has no authority to do this.
According to the Washington State Constitution, Article II Section 1, “The legislative authority of the state of Washington shall be vested in the legislature.” That word “vested” means non-transferrable. Additionally, “The first power reserved by the people is the initiative,” and, “The second power reserved by the people is the referendum.”
Because of this, Executives Orders in Washington State carry no force of law. They are simply and only policy statements describing how the executive branch intends to implement law that has been duly passed by the State legislature or the people.
No legislation has been passed mandating a, “transition from coal,” or to, “advance electric vehicle use,” or to, “implement opportunities to increase statewide investments in multimodal transportation.” And no legislation has been passed to, “develop…a new state program to assist and support our research institutions, utilities, and businesses to develop, demonstrate, and deploy new renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.”
For Governor Inslee to pretend to create such mandates with the stroke of his pen is for him to abandon the role of the executive listed in the State Constitution in Article III Section 5, to, “see that the laws are faithfully executed.”
Part of the problem is poorly crafted law. When legislators craft law giving the executive branch a blanket statement such as, “spend such and such,” or, “provide energy,” the executive branch ~assumes~ it has been delegated the duty of making up any law as it sees fit – in the form of executive orders and bureaucratic regulations – to achieve the goal. That’s the real issue.
For example, in 1969 the federal Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act. The act basically said, “An Act to establish a national policy for the environment, to provide for the establishment of a Council on Environmental Quality, and for other purposes.” That’s it. The rest of the act was six pages of platitudes about, “assure for all Americans safe, healthful, productive, and aesthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings,” and, “recognize the worldwide and long-range character of environmental problems,” etc. I’m not making this up.
In 1970, based off that poorly crafted act, President Nixon issued an executive order authorizing creation of the EPA and giving it blanket authority over wide swaths of government and other previous legislation.
Since that time the federal Congress has given the EPA additional, similarly undefined duties. For example, the monstrous Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 which starts off with the preamble, “The objective of this chapter is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters,” and goes on to say things like, “It is…the policy of the Congress to support and aid research relating to the prevention, reduction, and elimination of pollution and to provide Federal technical services and financial aid to State and interstate agencies and municipalities in connection with the prevention, reduction, and elimination of pollution,” etc. It went on to say, “Except as otherwise expressly provided in this chapter, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (hereinafter in this chapter called “Administrator”) shall administer this chapter”
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/33/1251 (Title 33 1251-1376)
So the President of the United States and the EPA administrator both think they can make up law as they see fit. But they cannot, because under the U.S Constitution, “We the People…do ordain and establish..All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States…” Again, that word “vested” means non-transferrable.
The U.S. Congress has no authority to delegate it’s role away. They have no authority to delegate environmental regulation to the EPA, power to initiate acts of war to the executive, coinage to the Fed, or origination of tax code to the I.R.S.
Similarly, the Washington State Congress has no authority to delegate to Governor Inslee the authority to make regulation regarding engergy consumption, transportation or creating new state programs.