Obama To Use Executive Order To Force Carbon Reduction In USA

CAPTION: President Obama's Weekly Address was made at the Children's National Medical Center, where Obama said "For the sake of all our kids, we've go to do more to reduce pollution." He was speaking about the highly negative impact of pollution, such as carbon emissions, on the lungs of millions of Americans—with asthma and other breathing difficulties increasing alarmingly around the world, but particularly in highly industrialized and polluting economies (such as USA and China). Obama made the argument that the same sources of pollution that were damaging the lungs of America's children were contributing to climate change and global warming.
According to news reports (at the NY Times and Wall Street Journal), President Obama will today sign an executive order forcing the nation’s coal-burning power plants to reduce carbon emissions by 30% (of 2005 levels) by the year 2030.

As the Times reports:
"The president, who failed to push a sweeping climate change bill through Congress in his first term, is now acting on his own by using his executive authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act to issue the regulation."
The plan, regulated by the EPA, will be introduced gradually and with flexibility granted to individual states for specific implementations, The Wall Street Journal described it in personal terms for the president:
"For the president, the rule is a major element of his attempt to secure a second-term legacy."
Immediately forcing climate change to the forefront of the 2014 campaign debate, Republicans (and coal industry agents) were already lining up in opposition to the President’s plan. As noted in the Times, the United States Chamber of Commerce is complaining that Obama’s plan would, among other things:

• Cut GDP by $51 billion on average every year through 2030.
• Lead to 224,000 fewer U.S. jobs on average every year through 2030
• Force U.S. consumers to pay $289 billion more for electricity through 2030
• Lower total disposable income for U.S. households by $586 billion through 2030

The President’s response to this criticism is made much more difficult by the fact that a majority of Republicans still express skepticism that manmade climate change is even occurring, or that it is as big a threat as climate scientists have warned. Many Republicans, deeply religious to a self-destructive fault, actually believe, and regularly profess on social media sites, that God controls the Earth’s climate, and there is nothing humans can do to change that.

Recently, the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH), made an extraordinary statement—nevertheless almost certainly a true statement:
"Well listen, I'm not qualified to debate the science over climate change. but I am astute enough to understand that every proposal that has come out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy, and killing American jobs. That can't be the prescription for dealing with changes in our climate."
Boehner offered no Republican alternative.

In the face of that kind of disturbingly ignorance on the part of millions of Americans, including the outrageous fact of the person who is currently the chair of the Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA), any progress on lowering the nation’s carbon emissions has been paralyzed in Congress.

Now, if Obama does nothing, in the face of Congressional inability to act legislatively, the US will continue to have no leverage in arguing for coal-burning reductions in places like China (producing twice the emissions of the US) and India (half the US total and rising), whose total carbon production is more than twice that of the US.

Only yesterday, Reuters ran a story indicating that President Obama was going to choose to ignore opposition on the new climate change rules by red-state Democrats, whose advocacy of pro-carbon industries, such as oil fracking, is seen as necessary for them to hold onto their seats in Congress this fall.

One reasonable conclusion to make, concerning the failure of Barack Obama to lead the nation and the Congress in facing up to the dire global threat of climate change and the terrible warming that is occurring, is that Barack Obama is inept when it comes to forging bi-partisan alliances to get things down. This has been a criticism of Obama on many other issues.

Exposing the Democratic Party to charges that its leader, in bypassing Congress, is increasingly acting like a dictator, Obama has relied upon executive orders to make small, sometimes negligible changes in the nation’s policies. The question many Democrats may ask in 2014 is whether the political cost many of them will pay for this new environmental policy is worth it, given the tepid impact on climate change the new policy is likely to achieve.

In fact, in another Times story, this point was driven home, where an estimate of the impact of this very conservative carbon-reducing program was said to be minimal:
"By itself, the president’s plan will barely nudge the global emissions that scientists say are threatening the welfare of future generations."
Obama and most Democrats will nevertheless argue, seemingly reasonably, that the USA had to start somewhere to reverse the poisoning of the atmosphere with climate-changing chemicals.

Of course, coal industry lawyers have already promised a court battle to fight Obama’s new orders. And, again, the Supreme Court may be put in the position of deciding if the President has the power to force the nation to do what so many of its citizens oppose.

Comments