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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Monday, December 14, 2015

WSJ: "Obama Faces Political Fight At Home Over Climate Deal"

Today in Washington, D.C. - Sec 14, 2104:

The House is in recess, although a lot of backroom discussion is going on about the proposed spending bill for the next nine months. The House is scheduled to reconvene at Noon tomorrow, Dec. 15, 2015.

The Senate will reconvene at 3 PM today. At 5:30, the Senate will vote on the nominations of Alissa M. Starzak to be General Counsel of the Department of the Army, John Conger to be a Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Stephen P. Welby to be an Assistant Secretary of Defense, and Franklin R. Parker to be an Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

The White House has been quite proud of the non-binding agreement reached in Paris on climate over the weekend.

But Bloomberg News reminds the president, “For Barack Obama, the landmark climate-change deal in Paris should leave a familiar -- and familiarly fragile -- sense of victory. As with the health care overhaul of his first term, the U.S. president secured a policy win that has eluded predecessors for decades. . . . But as with Obamacare, the president’s signature health care reform, the victory rests on shaky ground. Even supporters say the new deal won’t go far enough on its own to stop global warming. Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, many of whom question whether human activity is affecting the climate, are vowing to kill Obama’s domestic regulations, which they paint as a job killer, an economic disaster, and a ‘war on coal.’ The Paris accord also rests on scores of nations following through on voluntary pollution pledges and technological innovations in energy production that may take years to emerge. . . .

“The Republican-controlled Congress already voted this month to block the centerpiece of Obama’s climate agenda, rules that would cut emissions by one third from the U.S. fleet of power plants. While Obama can veto the measure, Republicans vying to succeed him in the 2016 election have promised to undo the policies if they win the White House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said following the announcement of the deal, “The climate proposal announced today represents nothing more than a long-term planning document. The President is making promises he can’t keep, writing checks he can’t cash, and stepping over the middle class to take credit for an ‘agreement’ that is subject to being shredded in 13 months. His commitments to help leaders abroad are based on proposals at home that would hurt jobs and raise utility rates for American families.

“Before his international partners pop the champagne, they should remember that this is an unattainable deal based on a domestic energy plan that is likely illegal, that half the states have sued to halt, and that Congress has already voted to reject.”

The Wall Street Journal writes, “[T]he White House still faces resistance at home as Republicans and some U.S. industries push back against the policies underpinning the deal. The deal was structured in a way that doesn’t require congressional approval. Many Republicans, though, have vowed to unravel the Obama administration’s efforts. GOP lawmakers have launched a multipronged approach to undercutting the president’s climate agenda, and most of the Republican presidential candidates have pledged that, if elected, they would undo Mr. Obama’s executive actions aimed at curbing global warming. . . .

“Republicans on Capitol Hill aren’t waiting to take aim at Mr. Obama’s climate policies. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) described the accord as ‘nothing more than a long-term planning document.’ . . .

“Republicans also have sought to upend the administration’s efforts to funnel federal dollars to developing nations so they can tackle climate change as part of a United Nations program called the Green Climate Fund. . . . [T]he administration must navigate an array of challenges to its environmental policies. Two dozen states have sued to stop the EPA regulations aimed at cutting carbon emissions.”

Meanwhile, raising energy costs and killing jobs to satisfy an international climate agreement isn’t exactly at the top of Americans’ priorities. What is? According to Gallup, “After the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, Americans are now more likely to name terrorism as the top issue facing the U.S. than to name any other issue -- including those that have typically topped the list recently, such as the economy and the government. About one in six Americans, 16%, now identify terrorism as the most important U.S. problem, up from just 3% in early November. This is the highest percentage of Americans to mention terrorism in a decade . . . .”

As for the issues discussed in Paris, only 3% of Americans named the environment or pollution as the most important problem facing the country in the Gallup poll. That number is actually within the poll’s 4% margin of error.

Another Wall Street Journal story notes that the United States isn’t the only place where this agreement is likely to run into problems. “[A]s two weeks of tumultuous negotiations made clear, the pact’s success hinges on individual countries making painful choices—especially in how they produce and consume energy—that could profoundly shape corporate behavior, financial markets and the global economic landscape. . . .

“At the core of the agreement, reached Saturday evening in a suburb of Paris, is a collection of voluntary plans submitted by every country to tackle climate change, each reflecting its own economic and political situation. . . .

“While the plans lay out a monumental challenge, in aggregate they still don’t meet the level of cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions that the agreement itself targets. Much of the success of the deal also lies in implementation years from now, by governments that haven’t yet been elected.”

And sure enough, a Reuters story this morning is headlined, “India says Paris climate deal won't affect plans to double coal output.” According to Reuters, “India still plans to double coal output by 2020 and rely on the resource for decades afterwards, a senior official said on Monday . . . .

India, the world's third-largest carbon emitter, is dependent on coal for about two-thirds of its energy needs and has pledged to mine more of the fuel to power its resource-hungry economy while also promising to increase clean energy generation. . . .

“Environmentalists worry that despite India's commitment to renewable energy, its rising use of coal at a time when many Western nations are rejecting the dirty fossil fuel will hamper the world's fight against climate change.”

As Leader McConnell wrote in The Washington Post about the Paris negotiations, “We know that the president is concerned with his legacy, and we know that he often prioritizes symbolism over substance. If Obama thinks it’s okay to push a power plan that threatens working families for the benefit of, at best, a carbon rounding error, then he should say so.

“But Congress and more than half of the states have already made clear that he won’t be speaking for us. The courts will also continue working to determine if this power plan is legal.”

Tags: Congress, Climate Change,  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 2:00 PM - Post Link


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