Checks and balances should apply to Obama’s climate promises

Published 7:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2015

A war on coal and the misguided rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline are just two recent examples of the Obama Administration’s radical and pointless environmental agenda here at home.
Now the President is headed to Paris for the United Nations climate conference, where he is expected to make international promises without the advice and consent of Congress.
I am a cosponsor of a Senate resolution urging President Obama to submit to Congress any climate agreement that includes targets and timetables for U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. I have also reiterated this request in a letter to the President, pledging with 36 of my colleagues that taxpayer dollars will not go to the Green Climate Fund without congressional approval. The Constitution grants Congress – not the executive branch – the power of the purse.
Major Economic Damage, Minimal Environmental Impact
Time and again, the President has failed to recognize how the costs of his environmental regulations would negatively impact American workers and the economy. The Environmental Protection Agency’s ozone rules have been described as the most expensive in history, and its so-called Clean Power Plan would eliminate tens of thousands of jobs. The American people deserve to have a say in the fate of these policies, including the President’s $3 billion pledge to the Green Climate Fund. As part of this fund, U.S. tax dollars would go toward the financing of questionable sustainable energy and environmental mitigation projects in developing countries.
Americans are right to ask what benefits will come from spending billions of dollars to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. According to a recent peer-reviewed article, the outcome would be negligible, reducing the growth of global temperatures by less than one-tenth of one degree Fahrenheit by 2100. And that assumes a best-case scenario, in which every country actually fulfills each promise put forth in the Paris negotiations by 2030.
GDP Could Lose $154 Billion
Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg recently warned in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that “the agreements coming out of Paris are likely to see countries that have flourished with capitalism willingly compromising their future prosperity in the name of climate change.” He points out that the Obama Administration’s proposal to reduce domestic carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 28 percent does not come with an official cost estimate. However, data from the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum, suggest that these cuts in U.S. emissions could drive down U.S. gross domestic product by at least $154 billion each year.
At a time of tight budget constraints, we should be using taxpayer resources wisely, ensuring that every hard-earned dollar produces meaningful results. For example, the investments that the President has pledged to developing countries through the Global Climate Fund could be put to better use like fighting malaria and malnutrition. Only 3 percent of Americans believe that climate change is the most important issue facing the country, according to a recent Fox News poll. Even a UN poll asking the world’s poorest countries “What matters most to you?” shows that climate change ranks last, after education, health care, and affordable food.
I hope that the theoretical environmental impact of the proposed carbon dioxide reductions will be weighed against their real-world costs during the Paris conference. Moreover, the President should recognize the importance of upholding our Constitution’s checks and balances. A president may enter into a legally binding treaty only if it is approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. Lawmakers should be able to represent the will of their constituents in a deal of this magnitude.

By Senator Roger Wicker

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