It’s time to rein in government agencies with political agendas

(Journal stock photo.)

By now, many of you have heard about the Securities and Exchange Commission’s plan to require publicly traded companies to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed rule, issued earlier this year, requires these companies to disclose not only direct and energy-related emissions, but also those of every downstream supplier, known as Scope 3 Emissions.

As you might imagine, this presents significant concerns for cattle producers who find themselves in the supply chain of many publicly traded companies, restaurants and retailers.

The federal government has already acknowledged collecting the data will be nearly impossible. There is also no agreed-upon scientific method for measuring agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, particularly from livestock in a pasture.

Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and many other agricultural organizations raised an army of opposition to the proposed rule during the commission’s comment period. Although not yet finalized, the agency is continuing to advance its proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

The SEC’s actions highlight a growing and troubling trend—federal agencies actively working to achieve political agendas. Activists and politicians are increasingly using the power of executive orders and administrative rulemaking to bypass the legislative branch and create regulations that would not pass Congress.

It’s easy to understand the reasoning, especially since navigating Congress is so challenging today. Unfortunately, the officials who lead these government agencies are appointed, not elected. By circumventing our elected representatives in Washington, D.C., they also circumvent the citizens who elected them.

Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court and many legislators are growing tired of these tactics.

This summer, the Supreme Court struck back at the Environmental Protection Agency for overstepping its rulemaking authority, emphasizing that “administrative agencies must be able to point to ‘clear congressional authorization’ when they claim the power to make decisions of vast ‘economic and political significance.’”

Congress is also fighting back.

In the case of the SEC’s greenhouse gas reporting plan, several bills have been filed to expressly limit the commission’s authority to implement such reporting requirements.

One of the latest bills, the Scope 3 Act filed by Texas Congressman Troy Nehls, has broad bipartisan support. Co-sponsors from Texas include Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo; Jake Ellzey, R-Midlothian; Vicente Gonzalez, D-McAllen; Ronny Jackson, R-Amarillo; Pete Sessions, R-Waco; Randy Weber, R-Alvin; and Roger Williams, R-Austin.

Despite the growing headwinds, the current administration and agency officials show few signs of abandoning their current efforts. The SEC continues to march forward with its reporting requirements, and a wide range of proposed rules at other agencies continue to advance, as well.

Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association will continue to fight the burdensome and unrealistic regulations cropping up at government agencies, but Congressional action will also be critical.

As you head to the polls this November, please make sure you know where the candidates stand on these regulatory issues. More importantly, though, consider their stance on the ability of regulatory agencies to pursue political agendas without the “clear congressional approval” noted by the Supreme Court.

The decisions we make this November will have lasting implications on our ability to continue raising cattle and caring for our land.

—James Oliver serves on the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association board of directors and chairs the natural resources and wildlife committee.