Presidential Executive Action: Unilaterally Changing the World’s Critical Technology and Infrastructure

68 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2020

See all articles by Steven Ferrey

Steven Ferrey

Suffolk University Law School

Date Written: 2016


Can the President, through executive action with no approval of Congress whatsoever, change the world? Declared President Obama: “If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will.” What is considered the second most important invention in history—electricity—has had its legal regulation and technological foundation fundamentally changed by unilateral executive action in
the past two years. As a result of this unilateral executive action, critical technology and modern society are changing fundamentally.

This is not without legal challenge: Shortly after the Obama Administration announced its Clean Power Plan, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner announced that he and others would file a lawsuit against President Obama for unconstitutional use of Presidential directives. Litigation takes time; the court challenge progresses. Addressing both constitutional and administrative issues, this Article examines the core legal “flex” of executive power within the contours of U.S. constitutional governance.

This Article examines pivotal executive actions taken through the “back door” with no legislative concurrence, and some legislative disapproval, to affect the supply of power in America and climate change. Unilateral executive action is changing fundamental technology for the second most important invention in history. Losing 20 percent of its market share in an administrative heartbeat, unilateral executive branch environmental regulation and interpretation is now constricting coal combustion from its historical position supplying more than half of all U.S. electric power less than five years ago, to a rapidly plunging minority share. This fundamentally alters the United States’ environment and climate. This Article explores the law and nuances enwrapping how the United States regulates the second most important invention in history, and how it changes the foundation
of the American economy.

Suggested Citation

Ferrey, Steven, Presidential Executive Action: Unilaterally Changing the World’s Critical Technology and Infrastructure (2016). Drake Law Review, Vol. 64, p. 43, 2016, Available at SSRN:

Steven Ferrey (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

120 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02108-4977
United States

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