Obama's Global Warming Limits Under Attack from GOP Politicians
December 23, 2015
Ken Kimmell / Union of Concerned Scientists & Chris Mooney / The Washington Post
The Obama administration's new limits on global warming emissions from power plants are the single most effective climate action ever undertaken by our government. And since the day they went into effect, they've been under threat. Twenty-six states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop their implementation. Congress recently voted to dismantle the limits outright. And a majority of the presidential candidates oppose them.
Special to Environmentalist Against War
Obama's Global Warming Limits Under Attack from GOP Politicians
Ken Kimmell / Union of Concerned Scientists
(December 22, 2015) -- The Obama administration's new limits on global warming emissions from power plants are the single most effective climate action ever undertaken by our government. And since the day they went into effect, they've been under threat.
Twenty-six states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop their implementation. Congress recently voted to dismantle the limits outright. And a majority of the presidential candidates oppose them.¹
Our most significant contribution to the fight against global warming could go up in smoke. Scientists and concerned citizens worked for years to bring these emissions limits to life -- it's up to us to stop the onslaught of attacks.
UCS experts, supported and funded by people like you, contributed incredibly valuable data to help craft these limits. Then they joined with advocates across the country to convince the EPA to put strong limits into effect, working with politicians and policy experts across the political spectrum to build support for the plan.
And now, state officials backed by fossil fuel companies are trying to tear it all down. (This despite the fact that an average of 61 percent of voters in their own states support these emissions limits.²) So our focus has turned to debunking the pseudo-science being used right now to scare voters, politicians, and judges.
What does that look like in practice? Over the course of just a couple weeks, we've had to rapidly analyze bogus claims in studies from the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Mining Association, and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. We've had to leverage relationships with journalists and policy makers who are reporting those claims so we can set the story straight and prevent them from gaining traction.
The future of these emissions rules rests with the lawsuits being filed by 26 states. The Union of Concerned Scientists is the organization best able to quickly review and debunk arguments that rely on false science and put the facts in the hands of key decision makers.
What's more, our campaigners are already active in states from California to Michigan to Virginia organizing local experts to testify to the independently-verified science showing the benefits of the Clean Power Plan.
Not only are we furiously monitoring corporate front groups' misinformation, we've got boots on the ground in key battleground states -- making sure the facts get into the hands of people who need them most.
This work is only possible through UCS member support. Power our work to cut global warming emissions and fight for science-based solutions to the challenges we face.
Climate change is one of the most divisive issues in American politics -- but we're willing to work with any leader who accepts science. UCS is respected across the political spectrum -- from U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) who met with us and subsequently agreed to support the Clean Power Plan, to US Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) who's said he follows UCS because we're "always right."
I certainly appreciate the sentiment, but to be clear, it's the science that's right -- we're just the messengers.
I know you get that. You respect science, and you're ready to use it to fight for what's needed most -- clean air and water for our families, a safe and stable environment where we can raise our kids, a secure and sustainable future for all of us.
We solicit no funds from corporations or the government. Everything we do is powered by your support.
Thank you for pitching in at this most critical time of year, and I hope you have a great holiday.
Ken Kimmell is President of the Union of Concerned Scientists
Amid Record Global Temperatures,
Senate Votes to Block Obama's Clean Power Plan
Chris Mooney / The Washington Post
(November 17, 2015) -- Even as new data suggest that October of 2015 was a record-breaking hot month -- with a 1.04 degree Celsius global temperature anomaly, the biggest monthly departure from average ever seen in NASA records -- Senate Republicans led a vote to block President Obama's flagship climate policy, the Clean Power Plan, and also another major EPA energy regulation of new power plants.
The largely symbolic votes, which have prompted strong resistance from environmental groups, took place on Tuesday evening after debate and speeches throughout the day.
There were two related resolutions under consideration. One, advanced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), was a resolution of disapproval, under the Congressional Review Act, saying that the Clean Power Plan "shall have no force or effect." The bill has 48 co-sponsors, including Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. The measure passed Tuesday evening:
The second, sponsored by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), would similarly disapprove of and repeal a rule governing emissions from new power plants. It also relies on the Congressional Review Act, which lets the body review major regulations issued by executive agencies and, potentially, block them. It passed by exactly the same margin.
The twin votes were unlikely to actually hobble the Clean Power Plan or other power plant regulations -- the White House promptly announced Tuesday Obama would veto the resolutions. But they sent a strong message of resistance at a time when Obama, having just rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline, is trying to project climate leadership just weeks before a crucial summit in Paris.
Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Capito invoked a "war on coal" and called the Clean Power Plan "the most expensive environmental regulation that the EPA has ever proposed on our nation's power sector."
Democrats had objected to the vote and, particularly, its timing.
"We are not here on the floor to discuss national security. We are here on the floor right now because the Republican leadership is taking a run at the president's Clean Power Plan," said Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in a Senate floor speech earlier Tuesday, objecting to the planned votes.
"Paris has not recovered from the devastation of the other day, and we have important bills . . . that would improve the capacity of our Department of Justice, of our FBI, of our Department of Homeland Security to address these threats. And are we on those bills? No."
In announcing that Obama would veto the resolution opposing the Clean Power Plan, the White House noting that "by nullifying the Clean Power Plan, S.J.Res. 24 seeks to block progress towards cleaner energy, eliminating public health and other benefits of up to $54 billion per year by 2030, including thousands fewer premature deaths from air pollution and tens of thousands of fewer childhood asthma attacks each year."
The US Chamber of Commerce applauded the planned votes, however, as did the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.
The overall message is that as Obama and his negotiators head to Paris for COP-21, there is considerable resistance at home to the key policy by which the U.S. itself promises to reduce emissions.
But then, the world already knew that. It has been a major theme throughout many years of international climate negotiations.
"I think they're trying to create confusion and uncertainty before the international climate agreement is finalized, and it's not going to work," said Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii of the votes.
"They have had success in the past in muddying the waters, but we are in a different place now in terms of the international participation, in terms of domestic political support for clean energy, and in terms of having a real clean energy program in America."
"The outcome is certain from a legislative standpoint, but I think they're just hoping that they can make it seem as though this can be undone, and simply put, it cannot," said Schatz.
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