'I'm Just a Bill' Song Cited in Major Greenhouse Gas Ruling

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on June 27, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The EPA's proposed greenhouse gas rules are legal, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. Notably, the decision also quoted a few lines from the famous "I'm Just a Bill" Schoolhouse Rock cartoon from the 1970s.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals clears the way for the EPA to create new rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, power plants, and factories, Reuters reports. The EPA's decision to set limits is lawful, and the agency's interpretation of the Clean Air Act is "unambiguously correct," the judges held.

So why did the D.C. Circuit cite a 1970s-era cartoon in its decision?

The judges quoted part of the Schoolhouse Rock "I'm Just a Bill" song to respond to an argument by challengers to the EPA's greenhouse gas rules, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Challengers, including various industry and business groups, asserted the proposed EPA rules would so overburden industry with permits and regulations that Congress would have to step in with "corrective legislation."

Not quite, the D.C. Circuit responded. "After all, a proposed bill must make it through committees ... and garner a majority of votes in both chambers" before getting presidential approval and perhaps even going back to Congress for a veto override, the court explained.

"As a generation of schoolchildren knows, 'by that time, it's very unlikely that [a bill will] become a law. It's not easy to become a law,'" the court's opinion states, citing Schoolhouse Rock.

The court also included a link to the "I'm Just a Bill" music video in its ruling:

The EPA's greenhouse gas rules could affect about 6 million power plants, factories, and farms nationwide, according to the National Association of Manufacturers. New EPA rules are also expected to raise fuel-efficiency standards in cars, to more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025, the Detroit Free Press reports.

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