In yet another demonstration of contempt for the Constitution, President Obama and his administration are pursuing what the New York Times characterizes as a "sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions” -- absent any input from Congress.
The Constitution requires a two-thirds majority approval by the Senate to ratify any legally binding treaty. The Obama administration plans to sidestep that requirement by calling the agreement a “politically binding” deal that would substitute for an actual treaty. It would consist of voluntary pledges, combined with obligations from a 1992 U.N. treaty known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Control. That 22-year-old agreement was reached at the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The U.S. Senate ratified the agreement on October 7, 1992, and President Bush Sr. signed it six days later, making it legally binding.
The Obama administration contends that simply adding the additional voluntary pledges to the agreement obviates the need for another ratification process. “There’s some legal and political magic to this,” said Jake Schmidt, an expert in global climate negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council, a leftist advocacy group. “They’re trying to move this as far as possible without having to reach the 67-vote threshold.”
Not magic. Just another attempt by the Obama administration to kick Congress to the curb in pursuit of an agenda that has absolutely no chance of getting majority approval in Congress, much less a two-thirds vote of approval in the Senate. In 1997, the Kyoto climate control treaty was rocketed into oblivion with a 96-0 bipartisan vote. Another effort was undertaken in Copenhagen in 2009, but once again the attempt to forge a legally binding agreement failed. Obama attended that conference, hoping to put America in alignment with the global community, but he did so with no support whatsoever from Republicans, along with opposition from several Democrats representing states that rely heavily on coal power for energy and jobs. Democrats made it clear they wouldn’t accept any treaty or agreement threatening that status quo. In 2010, “cap and trade” legislation failed in the Senate for the same reason.
The Obama administration is undeterred by such inconvenient realities. In June, once again absent any input from Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulations aimed at cutting existing greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants 30 percent by 2030. The move has engendered lawsuits in the in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia from at least a dozen coal-reliant states. It has also engendered a warning from North Dakota Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, whose state relies on coal-generated electricity for a whopping 80 percent of its power needs. "When that is done, and the stake is through the heart of coal, they will come for you next,” Heitkamp told representatives from the natural gas industry. She also added a dose of reality to the mix. "In my lifetime we will not transition away from coal,” she contended.
That remains to be seen, given the Obama administration’s penchant for “transitioning” away from the rule of law. Yet even this patchwork quilt of an agreement will suffer the same affliction that bedevils many of the administration’s efforts, as in a disconnect from geopolitical reality. The premise behind this pact is to “name and shame” countries who do not meet their reduction requirements. Thus the administration is relying on the idea that “embarrassed” nations will fall back in line, regardless of the economic consequences for doing so.
It’s not going to happen. As the Washington Times correctly explains, "China and India, each with more than a billion people and swathes of horrific poverty of a sort not seen in the West, have been particularly outspoken in their refusal to agree to any mandatory carbon-emission cuts, which would limit their development and prosperity.”
In addition, the poorer nations of the world are also unlikely to abide by any agreement that does not bind richer nations to a massive wealth transfer aimed at assisting their development of dams and levees to guard against coastal flooding from rising seas, or provide food aid during droughts that are invariably attributed to global warming.
Global warming itself has been subjected to a series of “readjustments” in recent years. In 2009, there was the “Climategate” scandal in which the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit was found to have suppressed data contradicting their assessment of global warming. Last year, a series of leaked emails revealed that scientists working on a U.N. climate change report were struggling to explain why global warming has decreased over the last 15 years, even as greenhouse gas emissions keep rising. That same year, a paper asserting that there was a 97-percent scientific consensus regarding human-caused global warming was revealed to have been doctored by warming alarmists and their media allies. In June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) quietly reinstated data showing July 1936 as the hottest month on record, after insisting in 2012 that July of that year was the "all-time warmest month on record for the nation in a period of record that dates back to 1895.” And last week in Australia, scientists with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) were accused of manipulating data to create an artificial warming trend, using a process called “homogenization” that ostensibly corrects anomalies in raw temperature data. The BOM insisted that it was “very unlikely” that such homogenization affected overall outlooks.
Countering such realities requires a certain level of hysteria. The so-called paper of record was more than up to the task. "The strategy comes as scientists warn that the earth is already experiencing the first signs of human-caused global warming — more severe drought and stronger wildfires, rising sea levels and more devastating storms — and the United Nations heads toward what many say is the body’s last chance to avert more catastrophic results in the coming century,” the New York Times reports.
A U.N. report to be released in early November is equally dire, noting that the world is on the cusp of “irreversible change” due to global warming.
Hence the “last chance” efforts continue. Last year, dozens of countries reached a deal in Warsaw that allow them to make “contributions” to reducing global warming, as opposed to “commitments" for doing so. Thus countries like China and India won more lenient guidelines for reducing emissions than desired by the United States and Europe. This deal was seen as a springboard for the upcoming one, to be hammered out next year in Paris, following a December meeting in Lima, Peru to draft the agreement.
Republicans have little use for a pact that ignores the rule of law and tramples the concept of national sovereignty in the process. “Unfortunately, this would be just another of many examples of the Obama administration’s tendency to abide by laws that it likes and to disregard laws it doesn’t like--and to ignore the elected representatives of the people when they don’t agree,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in a statement.
When there’s a planet to save—and an American economy to ruin in the process—such “banal" considerations must be cast aside. Obama and his administration are determined to fulfill his promise of “skyrocketing” electricity prices, along with his one to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” Delivering the nation into the clutches of UN bureaucrats, while kicking Congress and the Constitution to the curb, is the latest effort to fulfill that agenda. It won’t be the last.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.