President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the international climate change agreement reached in Paris as a major achievement that could help turn the tide on global warming.
But Republicans, who are heavily funded by fossil fuel interests that produce the pollutants causing climate change, tried to deflate the celebration, vowing to overturn the agreement signed by almost 200 nations if the party wins the White House in 2016.
Obama said the climate agreement “can be a turning point for the world” and credited his administration for playing a key role. He and Kerry predicted the agreement would prompt widespread spending on clean energy and help stem carbon pollution.
“We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge,” Obama said from the White House. He said the climate agreement “offers the best chance we have to save the one planet we have.”
But the immediate reaction of leading Republicans was a reminder of the conflict that lies ahead.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Obama is “making promises he can’t keep” and should remember the agreement “is subject to being shredded in 13 months,” when the next president takes the oath of office.
Even as Obama was working to hammer out a global climate agreement in Paris, Republican climate-change deniers in Congress were working to block his plan to force cuts in greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants.
The House passed two resolutions Dec. 8 against the power-plant rules. A measure blocking an Environmental Protection Agency rule for existing power plants was approved 242–180, while a measure blocking a rule on future power plants was approved 235–188.
The votes came after the Senate approved identical motions in November under a little-used law that allows Congress to block executive actions it considers onerous.
The measures, as WiG went to press, were at the White House, where they faced almost-certain vetoes.
Just four Democrats sided with Republicans to support the measures, which fell far short of the numbers needed to override a veto in both the House and Senate.
U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., said GOP lawmakers were forcing a vote on the climate rule “to send a message … there’s serious disagreement with the policies of this president.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the president’s pro-environment policies will kill jobs, increase electricity costs and decrease the reliability of the U.S. energy supply.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., said he wished Obama took the threat posed by “radical jihadists” as seriously as he takes the “pseudoscientific threat” posed by climate change.
Republicans at the state level also are challenging the power plan, which requires states to cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030, based on emissions in 2005. Each state has a customized target and is responsible for drawing up an effective plan to meet its goal.
The EPA says it has authority to enact the plan under the Clean Air Act. But 25 mostly Republican states, led by Texas and West Virginia, are contesting the plan in court, calling it an unlawful power grab that will kill jobs and drive up electricity costs. Wisconsin, which has perhaps the nation’s strongest rules discouraging “green” energy, is part of the suit.
Utilities, the National Mining Association and the nation’s largest privately owned coal company also are suing the EPA over the new rules.
Koch Industries, a major polluter that political insiders say pulls the strings of the Wisconsin GOP, is one of the world’s largest funders of climate-change propaganda.
The Associated Press was a source for this analysis.