W Goes Green?

After being a stalwart opponent of the nonsensical anti-science buttressing the “global warming” industry throughout his tenure, President Bush today is scheduled to announce a multi-part program to combat the man-made climate change that mostly exists in the fevered brows of the Left here, in Hollywood and in Europe.

To paraphrase what Bluto said in "Animal House," “Great. Seven years down the drain.”

Bluto was speaking of his college experience, of course. The seven years that President Bush is preparing to squander involve his team having misplayed an issue badly, at fairly significant if certainly illegitimate diplomatic cost, even while resolutely holding out against the well-heeled global warming industry, elite media, Europeans desperate for us to — their words — “level the playing field” for their businesses. This, apparently, is being done in pursuit of a “legacy,” if offered in the name of avoiding a “regulatory train wreck” that, I might mention, some us of warned them about for years.

According to Monday’s Washington Times, this major reversal of White House policy comes at a time when the president’s influence is at its nadir and the economy is apparently in real trouble. Indications are that it may aim in part to revive the Kyoto Protocol process, which is to say negotiations over a second “global warming” treaty designed to limit economic activity, currently moribund due to Europe’s spectacular (and expensive) failure and the rest of the world’s (sage) intransigence. The Senate unanimously warned the Clinton-Gore administration not to get involved with this mess, but they didn’t listen. We’re still paying the costs.

Details of the new Bush proposals are sketchy at press time.  As gathered from several White House and congressional sources, the administration is trying to finesse the message due to a huge internecine fight over what the proposals will say.

Apparently, the president is considering how to push forward his “20-in-10” plan to reduce US consumption of foreign oil by 20% in 10 years. So far that has meant a massive increase in the biofuel requirements, principally ethanol (mostly derived from corn, soy and palm oils). Where these mandates go, plows and chainsaws follow. So do deadly food riots and increasing unrest.

Bush’s move comes a day after Kyotophile Sen. John McCain called for a gas tax holiday because of the economic pain caused by high energy prices, and as nearly every governmental, non-governmental and supra-governmental source decries the human cost of mandating we put food in our gas tanks. What a world.

Conservatives extracted a promise Tuesday afternoon that the President would not mention the awful “cap and trade” system to ration energy use emissions (carbon dioxide) and mandate a phony commercial market in “carbon credits” capping energy use (barring reliance on windmills or…even more fantastic given our politics, increased nuclear power). Enron sought that scheme here, before the unpleasantness, and we see why in the European Union. Its attempt at such a system has seen rampant corruption and soaring emissions. But at least the utilities pushing the scheme have made a lot of money off of the equally soaring energy costs. 

Another story — also in Monday’s Washington Times — detailed how the United Nations now agrees that China and India, along with most of the rest of the world, deserve continued exemption from any "global warming" treaty to succeed the expiring (at the end of 2012) Kyoto Protocol. This is a reversal from the UN’s prior position designed to attract the wealthy countries to agree to the "first" Kyoto: you do this, and of course those other countries join in Phase II, has become you do this (Phase II), and of course those other countries need not join. Possibly they noticed how well things are working out in Europe. Perhaps they could speak to our administration.

At least China, India and the rest of the world remain consistent. Whether the Bush administration will manage to do so or instead depart the stage in a blaze of desperate pandering is another issue.

For background, recall how, despite unanimous Senate instruction to the contrary in July 1997, the Clinton-Gore administration agreed to the treaty in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997 and later signed it — notwithstanding the bizarre press corps insistence to the contrary since Bush took office. That signature remains to this day, and any reading of Article I, Sec. 5 and Article II, Sec. 2 of our Constitution reveals that the Senate requires no further permission from the Executive to vote on it. But they don’t want to. They prefer to play games with what is, after all, by now the Left’s silly ploy of "do what I want or you’re all going to die".

This leaves us with the money question of why would the administration completely come unglued just as Europe’s failure and global intransigence are prompting news stories about how it seems George W. Bush was right on Kyoto all along?

Remember, Congress has made crystal clear their terror of voting on actually implementing the “global warming” agenda and thereby seizing ownership of the drastic regulatory and, possibly direct taxes on energy use. Rhetoric is one thing but, particularly for a group that keen loudly enough (if generally misfiring) about the horrors of three-dollar gasoline, adopting the regime of the $8-10 per gallon Europeans is quite another.

No, despite all of the hysterics, name-calling and “we must act now!” shrillness during six years of Republican majority, the Democrats actually have no interest in touching the hot stove of energy taxes, be they direct or indirect. Their objective is to ride this for the maximum blame-casting and gestures about which they can claim they "did something."

In fact they, like the three remaining presidential candidates, desperately want Bush to take ownership of the matter, though one of several ways mostly though not exclusively presented through litigation by green pressure groups. It is the courts which have long offered the alarmists and other Kyotophiles in Congress the hope of attaining this agenda by inaction, as opposed to legislating. But a recent, refreshingly responsible (and politically sage) maneuver by the EPA made clear that wasn’t going to happen on Bush’s watch. Congress and McCain/Obama/Clinton claim they want this? Great. Let them try pulling it off.

Further, the White House is apparently floating the notion of accepting some global warming regime through the Clean Air Act in order to avoid this "regulatory train wreck." That this involves preempting other green shrines such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act only ensures that the beholden Democrat Party leadership will never let this get to first base.

So although the Bush administration ignored the signs and outside advice to take the offense to head it off before such desperate times, Congress created the mess both through its acts and failures to act. It isn’t the departing president’s job to bail them out, particularly by means of saddling us and future generations with the bill.

It isn’t the departing president’s job to bail them out, particularly by means of saddling us and future generations with the bill. Worse, this move is so potentially politically and economically disastrous as to smack of desperation.

So here’s the responsible course for the President. First, he and his advisors need to understand that whether he begs, or ignores the issue, there is not going to be any bill.

Given that fact, he can best use his time framing the discussion going forward. He needs to wonder aloud why, given where the same people tell us the economy is and is headed, politicians are toying with imposing Europe’s demonstrably failed “cap-and-trade” rationing scheme. After all, economists are fairly unified, from the center-left Resources for the Future to Alan Greenspan, that the “cap-and-trade” scheme the administration is considering endorsing for them is a debacle and far less efficient (more expensive) than simply taxing the energy.

President Bush, instead of endorsing this disaster, should take the bully pulpit and tell America that this is in play solely because it hides the energy tax from voters’ gaze even while multiplying the cost.

He could say and do a lot of things. The increasingly hysterical, irresponsible “end-of-days” rhetoric does indeed beg a response. The one the White House is considering is simply not it.