Blocking Obama’s mission to reduce emissions

November 14, 2014

A recalcitrant FCC chairman is only one way to undermine policy.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping announced a “largely symbolic plan” to reduce carbon emissions in the coming decades. Although the U.S. pledged only modest increases to already-declared goals, the demands placed on the Chinese were even more squishy, and the disparity was enough to leave presumptive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “particularly distressed,” concerned that his home state of Kentucky might be shackled with burdensome regulations while the Chinese run free.

As this Reuters graphic shows, China and the U.S. were—by a fair amount—the two top emitters of CO2 in 2013, and the U.S.-China deal has some hoping for a similar but more substantive agreement with third place India, so an emissions agreement could be a positive development.

If only.

A fabled 97 percent of scientists agree that “climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities” but there is reason to question whether even this window dressing version of an emissions agreement will be enacted. In addition to the power of the purse strings, McConnell has also mused about using the Congressional Review Act—which allows Congress to review “major” new rules—to neuter the EPA; Congress could procedurally disapprove the new regulations, “resulting in the rules having no force or effect.”

Depending on one’s point  of view, contrivances like the Congressional Review Act either allow further obstructionism or prevent executive overreach, but they could soon take their place as new implements in Congress’s toolbox on inaction. On the upside, ignored regulations would allow Kentucky to bridge its noncompliance gap with China.

CO2map111414-620

3 comments

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The table and map are a bit misleading – it implies that one way for a country to get off the chart would be , if it contained 50 states as the US does but a similar argument applies to other countries , if the US , or China or any jurisdiction broke up into 50 states, that would decrease the average CO2 contribution of those states ( by 95% on average ) ; therefore smaller states , that have lower CO2 outputs , don’t get the bad rap on this chart even though several small gulf states, for e.g. , have high CO2 output per head ( by the same token , the fact that Canada makes the chart despite its very low population would indicate that’s a problem ) .

Posted by JohnOfOnt | Report as abusive

That a U.S President and Chinese President have even voiced such sentiments together is a HUGE step forward, are you kidding? Recall under Bush the federal government could not even acknowledge global warming, and government scientists were censored from saying anything about it.

Hooray for Obama! He recognizes that China has to be treated as a partner in combating climate change, and he’s plowing forward. This President with a long-term vision, sure and steady. I’m ecstatic!

If Kentucky wants to fall behind rather than updating themselves, while China goes forward with getting the price of solar cells cheaper, well, that’s Kentucky’s problem that Senator McConnell is going to have to swallow. Status quo or progress? Head in sand or go with the flow? The flow of the rest of the world is toward renewable energy, so get with it! I prefer to follow what California is doing, not a backward state like Kentucky!

Posted by nkirv | Report as abusive

Hooray! Global warming deniers, flat-earthers, and hick creationists are in charge of public policy.

Posted by mtracy9 | Report as abusive