As U.N. delegates mingled at the global-warming summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency issued a new regulatory finding to address climate change — delighting the international green elites. EPA’s finding under the Clean Air Act will lead to a back-door energy tax and will extend the agency’s regulatory reach into nearly every corner of the American economy, destroying jobs, crippling international competitiveness, and raising the price of gasoline and electricity.
As delegates in Copenhagen cheered, those responsible for creating jobs here at home jeered. “The EPA is moving forward with an agenda that will put additional burdens on manufacturers, cost jobs and drive up the price of energy,” said the National Association of Manufacturers. “This finding comes when unemployment is hovering at 10% and many manufacturers are struggling to stay in business. It is doubtful that this endangerment finding will achieve its stated goal, but it is certain to come at a huge cost to the economy.”
According to Tom Donahue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, EPA’s action could lead to “a top-down command-and-control regime that will choke off growth by adding new mandates to nearly every single construction and major renovation project.”
Climategate Undermines EPA
EPA’s finding came even as its very scientific foundation appears to have crumbled. In the scandal now known as Climategate, e-mails released from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU), located in the U.K., revealed that the world’s top climate scientists — several of whom served on the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — may have, among other things, manipulated the data the IPCC uses to make its climate-science assessments. It is those same assessments that support EPA’s “endangerment finding.” EPA rejected calls from me and many others to delay the finding until investigations by my staff, other committees, the CRU, and Penn State University, the employer of a central figure in the scandal, were completed.
It is no surprise that EPA’s announcement coincided with the start of Copenhagen. After all, President Obama had little to discuss at the conference, since he has failed to deliver on a central plank of his platform: enacting into law a massive cap-and-tax bill to address global warming. In June, the House passed the 1,400 page Waxman-Markey bill by only seven votes, 219 to 212.
The politics of global warming are no better, and probably worse, in the Senate. The Kerry-Boxer bill, which is in many respects more destructive than Waxman-Markey, is dead. After Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, proceeded to mark up Kerry-Boxer in clear defiance of committee rules, the bill was roundly criticized by Democrats as much as Republicans. Several Democrats voiced opposition not just to Kerry-Boxer, but to the very concept of cap-and-trade. Sen. Jim Webb (D.-Va.) is justifiably concerned about cap-and-trade, given that newly elected Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell successfully campaigned against Waxman-Markey. “In its present form, I could not vote for [Kerry-Boxer],” Webb said on November 16. “I have some real questions about the real complexities of cap-and-trade.”
With nothing happening at home, President Obama desperately needed an agenda item in Copenhagen that would find favor with transnational green elites, whose energy-rationing schemes will put millions of Americans out of work. EPA’s action last week perfectly fit the bill. And yet even with the EPA’s moving forward, President Obama will undoubtedly fail in reaching a grand climate accord. The reason is simple: China, the world’s leading emitter of CO2, and India, the world’s third largest emitter, have refused to accept binding emissions cuts that will harm their economies.
Yet carbon pledges from China and India will be sold as concrete evidence that a climate deal is imminent. But don’t be fooled. Whatever “agreements” are made will merely reinforce business-as-usual for both countries. This is not a surprise. This summer, India’s Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, said, “India will not accept any emission-reduction target — period. This is a non-negotiable stand.” China has said very much the same thing.
Given the obduracy of China and India, don’t expect much from Copenhagen. Clearly, President Obama, with his EPA finding in tow, desperately needs to demonstrate meaningful progress at the international level. Without it, Congress will never pass cap-and-tax unless China and India assume the same burdens as the U.S. But what’s also clear is that China and India want nothing to do with job-killing carbon mandates. They are putting the fate of their citizens and their countries first. I urge President Obama to do the same.