Senate Democrats confirmed Thursday they intend to introduce their cap-and-trade bill next week on Wednesday, September 30, 2009. Senator Inhofe will once again be leading the efforts to oppose the bill that he says would impose the largest tax increase in American history. You can keep up on the very latest through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the Inhofe EPW Press Blog:
Inhofe Press Office on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/jiminhofepressoffice/
Inhofe Press Office on Twitter: www.twitter.com/inhofepress
Inhofe EPW Press Blog: www.epw.senate.gov/inhofeblog
Senate Democrats to unveil climate bill Sept 30
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Democrats will unveil legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions next Wednesday, kicking off what is likely to be a battle in Congress as lawmakers tussle over the economic impact of controlling global warming.
The bill has not been released formally but will be coauthored by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and California Senator Barbara Boxer, a Congressional source said on Thursday.
"The overall architecture of the Senate bill is going to be very similar to the House version of the bill," a separate source at an environmental group said via telephone from the G20 summit in Pittsburgh.
The proposal will add to an already full plate for lawmakers in Congress who are still working to hammer out details on healthcare and financial reforms.
The House narrowly passed a climate change bill in June that called for a 17 percent cut in carbon emissions below 2005 levels by 2020, and about an 80 percent reduction by 2050.
It would also require companies to acquire permits for the right to emit carbon. Initially about 85 percent of the carbon permits would be provided to companies for free.
Another source said the Senators are contemplating requiring a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gases by 2020.
Any climate legislation in the Senate likely faces an uphill battle, as lawmakers from heavy industrial states in both parties have raised concerns about burdening companies with additional energy costs.
Republicans, in particular, have characterized so-called cap and trade legislation as a massive energy tax that will kill jobs and dampen economic recovery.
If the Senate is able to pass its version of the climate bill, then lawmakers will have to hammer out any differences before the bill becomes law.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he hopes to bring this legislation to the floor for a vote by the end of this year. He has also said he plans to combine the bill, with a comprehensive energy package that was approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this year.
The announcement comes as U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a meeting of major economies in Pittsburgh where they are expected to discuss how industrialized nations could provide support to developing nations dealing with climate change.
This summit is a precursor to negotiations over an international climate accord in Copenhagen in December.
David Hunter, director of U.S. policy for the International Emissions Trading Association, said "odds are slim" that the Senate will be able pass a climate bill before the Copenhagen meeting.
Representative Mike Doyle, speaking to Reuters Television at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, said "it's going to be tough" for the Senate to clear a climate change bill this year.
But he thinks the Senate will move forward with climate change legislation once the healthcare reform bill is done, which is expected by the end of October.
"We passed a (climate change) bill in the House. So we're waiting on our colleagues in the Senate," Doyle said.
A United Nations report released Thursday said there are signs that the pace of climate change is surpassing the worst-case scenario scientists predicted in 2007.
The report said mountain glaciers in Asia are melting at a rate that could eventually threaten water supplies, irrigation or hydropower for 20 percent to 25 percent of the world's population. Also, increased absorption of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide by oceans is leading to acidification of sea water faster than expected.
Senator Inhofe responded to remarks made by Senator John Kerry (D-MA), today who said, “I don't know what 'cap and trade' means. I don't think the average American does,’ adding, ‘This is not a cap-and-trade bill, it's a pollution reduction bill.’"
Senator Kerry's remarks come as Senator Kerry and Senator Boxer intend to introduce their cap-and-trade bill on Wednesday, September 30.
“I think the best way to help Sen. Kerry define cap-and-trade is to turn to Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), who said that cap-and-trade ‘is a tax, and a great big one,’” Sen. Inhofe said. “No matter the semantic games employed, or the extent to which Democrats wish to hide the truth from the American people, cap-and-trade will mean more job losses, more pain at the pump, and higher food and electricity prices for consumers.
“Despite the post-modern denial of ‘the truth,’ in which words can mean whatever one chooses, the legislation on display next week will be cap-and-trade, pure and simple. And if the House Waxman-Markey bill is any guide, it will showcase a massive expansion of government mandates, spending, taxes, and energy rationing, all with meaningless effect on climate change.
“I hope we have an open, transparent, and civil debate about cap-and-trade and energy security. It’s critical that we get this right, for in order to get American moving again, we need an abundant, reliable domestic energy supply that creates jobs and keeps energy prices affordable for businesses, consumers, and families."
Democrats' efforts to reframe the climate bill have been well documented over the past year, as we noted in the Inhofe EPW Press blog post The President’s New “Clean Energy Economy” Talking Points:
Don’t say “climate change” or “global warming,” or even worse, “cap-and-trade,” anymore; use “clean energy economy.” As the New York Times and LA Times have recently reported, the White House, concerned by the lack of support for their “cap-and-trade” initiatives, is using poll-tested talking points to help push one of the President’s biggest priorities:
“The problem with global warming, some environmentalists believe, is ‘global warming.’ The term turns people off, fostering images of shaggy-haired liberals, economic sacrifice and complex scientific disputes, according to extensive polling and focus group sessions conducted by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit environmental marketing and messaging firm in Washington.” - New York Times, May 2, 2009
“Scratch 'cap and trade' and 'global warming,' Democratic pollsters tell Obama. They're ineffective…Control the language, politicians know, and you stand a better chance of controlling the debate. So the Obama administration, in its push to enact sweeping energy and healthcare policies, has begun refining the phrases it uses in an effort to shape public opinion. Words that have been vetted in focus groups and polls are seeping into the White House lexicon, while others considered too scary or confounding are falling away.” – LA Times, May 11, 2009
Appearing on C-SPAN's Washington Journal this week, Senator Inhofe announced he would be bringing the "truth squad" to the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December. Senator Inhofe also spoke with Chris Casteel from the Oklahoman as well as Robert Costa with NRO about the trip, whose post is included below.
National Review: The Corner
National Review: The Corner
Inhofe: I’m Bringing a ‘Truth Squad’ to Copenhagen
By: Robert Costa
September 23, 2009
Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), tells NRO that he plans to “lead a truth squad” at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.
The Oklahoman predicts that he probably will not be welcomed with open arms. Inhofe, as you may remember, led a similar group of conservative legislators in 2003, during the U.N.’s climate-change negotiations in Milan, Italy. “I was the outcast at that time,” recalls Inhofe. “Now, I want to make sure that those attending the Copenhagen conference know what is really happening in the United States Senate. Some people, like Senator Barbara Boxer, will tell the conference, with Waxman-Markey having passed in the House, that they can anticipate that some kind of bill will pass EPW.” Such statements, Inhofe says, deserve a bold response. “Look,” he says, “there is no bill that is bad enough to not pass out of our committee. There may be enough votes to get a bill out of EPW, but there is far from enough support in the Senate. The Democrats don’t have the votes. There are too many newly-elected Democrats in the Senate who don’t want to go home and tell voters that they just voted for the largest tax increase in American history.”
Six years ago, when Inhofe was in Milan, global-warming activists were so infuriated by his mere presence that they papered “Wanted” posters with his picture across the conference center, emblazoned with his famous quote about global warming: “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” That was the “first time the environmentalists have ever quoted me accurately,” he quipped at that time.
Inhofe adds that watching President Obama’s climate-change speech at the U.N. on Tuesday only made him more convinced that flying across the pond this winter to speak up was necessary. Obama, he says, was too vague and short on substance. “I don’t know what he’s going to do. It’s clear that he doesn’t know what he’s going to do, either,” says Inhofe. “What is clear is that the far Left is also upset with Obama.” (Bloomberg has more about Obama and his green discontents here.)
Who else will be joining Inhofe on his European crusade? The senator is mum for now. “I’ll see who’s willing to come,” he says. As the Danish say: Held og lykke.
On Wednesday, Senators Inhofe and Barrasso sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson urging the EPA not to finalize the Agency’s Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act (proposed rule) until it provides answers to letters that the Senators sent regarding the process behind EPA’s proposed endangerment finding for greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
“In order for the public to have a complete understanding of the scientific process behind the endangerment finding, we request that you should not finalize the endangerment rule or any further related affirmative findings under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act without developing a response to these transparency issues outlined in our August 4th letter,” the Senators wrote. “In this instance, there is no legally imposed deadline by which the Agency must finalize the proposed rule. So we believe the Agency has ample time to respond to the transparency issues outlined in our letter and place the response in the record to receive public feedback. Our investigation focuses on the process EPA used to determine the credibility and relevance of scientific data and studies that support its proposed endangerment finding.”
In a letter sent on August 4, 2009 to Administrator Jackson, Senators Inhofe and Barrasso questioned the process used to evaluate the scientific basis for EPA’s proposed endangerment finding. The letter was sent as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged suppression of a climate report written by Dr. Alan Carlin, a PhD economist in EPA’s Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation.
EPA responded on September 9, 2009 with an interim response stating, “EPA will need additional time to respond to your requests. Your requests are a high priority, and we will respond further as soon as possible.”
On Tuesday, Senator Inhofe took to the Senate floor to respond to President Obama's climate speech at the United Nations:
As cap-and-trade continues to languish in the United States Senate, President Obama is trying to salvage international climate change talks on the brink of collapse. So he gave a climate change speech at the United Nations, hoping to inspire hope in a process marred by failure. His speech, however, fell short of expectations, offering only talk of rising sea levels and climate refugees, with no constructive solutions for the challenges ahead.
President Obama’s speech was delivered against a backdrop of confusion and disagreement in the international community over climate change. The European Union is angry that the U.S. Senate is stalling cap-and-trade; China and India refuse to accept binding emissions cuts; the New York Times admits that global temperatures “have been stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years”; and addressing the global economic recession has taken precedence over climate change in countries throughout the world.
This is déjà vu all over again: these are some of the same issues that have stymied climate talks ever since Kyoto. Of course we were told that all rancor and disagreement would evaporate once a new Administration assumed power in the United States. After all, the failure to achieve an international climate pact was simply President Bush’s fault. President Obama would bring change and the ability to persuade the likes of China and India to transcend their national self-interest for the global good. Well, it hasn’t happened, and it won’t happen.
I was surprised that President Obama failed to define what success will mean in Copenhagen. So I will have to do it for him. From the standpoint of the United States Senate, success will not mean a vague, open-ended commitment on emissions from India or China, the world’s leading emitter. Success can only mean that China and other developing countries agree to mandatory emissions cuts comparable to those required of America—and that any treaty or agreement avoid causing harm to our economy. Unless those conditions are met, no such treaty or agreement can be approved by the Senate.
Remember that the Senate resoundingly rejected exempting developing nations such as China from a binding international climate treaty. We did this in the Byrd-Hagel resolution in 1997. Byrd-Hagel stated that, among other things, the U.S. should not sign any international climate change treaty that would: 1) mandate greenhouse gas reductions from the U.S. without also requiring new, specific commitments from developing countries over the same compliance period; and 2) result in serious economic harm to the United States.
I think Byrd-Hagel still commands strong support in the U.S. Senate. So any treaty the Obama Administration submits must meet the resolution's criteria, or it will be easily defeated.
We hear that China is making progress in reducing emissions, and that the Administration will persuade China to agree to more aggressive steps in Copenhagen. But the Administration’s climate change envoy, Todd Stern, is saying something different. On September 2, he said it’s not possible to ask China for an “absolute reduction below where they are right now,” because, as he said, “they're not quite at that point to be able to do that. And in that respect, developed and developing countries are different.”
Let me translate a bit: Stern is saying China simply can’t make reductions that would be comparable to anything the U.S. accepts domestically. This is not a surprise, considering that China is now the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, while U.S. emissions have remained relatively stagnant. Make no mistake here: China is unapologetic for its refusal to accept binding emissions cuts, and it will pursue an all-of-the-above energy strategy, including burning coal as it deems necessary.
China has also stated that before it accepts absolute, binding emissions reductions, developed countries must reduce their emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020. Let me say that again: China won’t accept absolute reductions until developed countries, including the United States, reduce their emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. This is astounding. Consider that the disastrous Waxman Markey calls for a 14 percent reduction. Accepting the Chinese position would mean certain economic disaster for the United States, with jobs and businesses—not to mention emissions—going to China.
Over the coming days and weeks, we will also hear much about China’s “National Mitigation Plan,” and its “5 year plan” to reduce emissions. We will hear stern warnings that China is outpacing the United States on clean energy. But this is a smokescreen to hide the chaos and failure of international climate change negotiations. Yes, in the coming weeks, President Obama will try to reach some sort of “bilateral agreement” with China on climate change. But it won’t require China to do anything other than its business-as-usual course.
In the final analysis, President Obama’s speech today was a failure: a failure to define success, a failure to provide real solutions for international energy security, and a failure to sketch the outlines of a meaningful international climate change agreement that will pass the Byrd-Hagel test.
Senator Inhofe included an amendment to the FY2010 Interior Appropriations bill this week that will benefit the sale of chat from the Tar Creek Superfund site.
"I am pleased that at the last minute, the Senate accepted my amendment that will help facilitate the sale of Quapaw-owned chat for usage in federally-funded road projects," Inhofe said. "Unfortunately, I could not, in good conscience, support overall passage of the bill because of the irresponsible funding levels included in it. At an economically difficult time when families are being forced to make tough spending decisions, and at a time when the federal deficit is exponentially growing, it just does not make sense to increase spending in this bill by 15 percent over last year's funding levels. Included within that increase is a 33 percent increase over last year for the EPA."
John Berrey, Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe said, "Once again, our partnership at Tar Creek has moved mountains. Senator Inhofe is an awesome advocate for Northeast Oklahoma and the Quapaw people."
Under current federal law, contractors working on federally funded road projects must spend a certain percentage of their funds on Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE), including minority owned businesses. The Inhofe amendment included in the Senate passed FY2010 Interior Appropriations bill creates an incentive for the use of Quapaw-owned chat from the Tar Creek area by allowing contractors using the chat to apply double credit toward their DBE requirement. Currently 500,000 to 750,000 tons of chat are used each year with 65 million tons available.
In addition, Inhofe said that appropriators, providing $300,000, partially funded his request for funds for a 12 million gallon per day wastewater treatment plant in Enid, Oklahoma. This facility will treat waste water from an estimated 20,000 households in Enid and on Vance AFB, and release it back into the environment for clean water uses. The new facility is critical to the community's military presence as well as the 50,000 residents who depend on the City to administer utilities and public service. Enid's Wastewater Treatment Project will create a minimum of 50 jobs for a two year period after which the plant will continue to be run by 15 employees.
Also included in the bill is a buyout for the residents of Treece, Kansas. Inhofe worked with both U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and U.S Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) to include the measure that is similar to the buyout Inhofe secured for the Tar Creek area residents of Pitcher, Oklahoma.
This week Josh Nelson of the Huffington Post asked us to respond to the post Alexander claims that cap-and-trade will cost consumer $1,761 a year. Josh reached out to us for a statement aftter he read Senator Inhofe's press release OBAMA BREAKS MIDDLE CLASS TAX PLEDGE. Below is our response. Josh has since responded with his own post which you can read here.
Fact Check: Cap-and-Trade is a Tax
First, it is undeniable that the whole point of cap-and-trade is to raise energy prices. As the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) put it, higher prices are “essential to the success of a cap and-trade program because they would be the most important mechanism through which businesses and households would be encouraged to make economically motivated changes in investment and consumption that reduced CO2 emissions.” As then candidate Obama stated in January 2008, "under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket....Because I'm capping greenhouse gases, coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money, they will pass that money on to consumers."
If that doesn’t quite get the point across, consider Peter Orszag, when, as director of CBO, he said that under “a cap-and-trade program, firms would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances but instead would pass them along to their customers in the form of higher prices. Such price increases would stem from the restriction on emissions and would occur regardless of whether the government sold emission allowances or gave them away” [emphasis added].
So cap-and-trade is a government mandate that raises energy costs. This is not an isolated view. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) said, “Nobody in this country realizes that cap and trade is a tax and it’s a great big one.” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said, “Whether you call it a tax, everyone agrees that it's going to increase the cost to the consumer." In short, if costs don’t go up, the whole point of the plan—to encourage people to move away from fossil fuels—collapses.
Now let’s consider the cost estimates from the Treasury Department, which came to light only after a FOIA request from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Treasury produced redacted documents showing that cap-and-trade would cost somewhere between $100 and $200 billion. If you divide those costs by the number of U.S. households (113.5 million), the result is a cost of $1,761 per year per household.
Environmentalists and the Administration cried foul, first arguing that this was an old proposal that did not reflect the House-passed Waxman-Markey bill, which gives away a large portion of allowances (at least in the early years). This is an interesting argument, because it ignores the fact that President Obama continues to assume over $600 billion in revenues from cap-and-trade in his FY 2010 mid-session budget review. Again, that’s over $600 billion from a plan that uses a 100 percent auction.
But let’s put that aside, and move to Waxman-Markey. Environmentalists complained the $1,761 figure was misleading because Waxman-Markey gives climate revenues back to consumers, so they won’t pay the costs of cap-and-trade.
Then things changed. Under pressure from Republicans, Treasury release unredacted documents, which showed that cap-and-trade would cost $400 billion. That means households would face a stiff tax of $3,522 a year. Treasury concluded that cap-and-trade could yield additional "revenues up to several percentage points of annual GDP (i.e. equal in size to the corporate income tax)." According to IRS figures, corporate income tax revenues totaled $395.5 billion in 2007. This is a massive cost to the economy. This is a massive tax on consumers.
As noted above, cap-and-trade supporters argue that this is not a tax, because the Waxman-Markey bill returns cap-and-trade revenues to consumers. Stephen Seidel, vice president for policy analysis and general counsel for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, put it this way: “What [Treasury] was looking at was a situation where 100 percent of the permits were auctioned, and ignored what would be done with revenue,” he said. The Waxman-Markey bill “uses revenue to offset cost to consumers.” Seidel concluded, “The bottom line is that it goes back to the consumers.”
Let’s consider Seidel’s argument. First, those redistributed funds won’t cover the entire cost of cap-and-trade, especially for those in the Midwest and other regions that rely heavily on coal-fired electricity. According to analysis of Waxman-Markey by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, “It is not possible to avoid these costs through any free distribution of carbon allowances. Although the wise use of revenues from an auction or carbon tax can ameliorate impacts to some segments of the economy, the cost of bringing emissions down to levels required by the caps cannot be avoided.”
One must also remember that under the Waxman-Markey bill, middle income consumers get no help on gasoline and food prices, which will necessarily increase. Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau, put it this way: “Any climate change legislation will also impose additional costs on all sectors of the economy and will result in higher fuel, fertilizer and energy costs...” Furthermore, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Waxman-Markey will increase gasoline prices by 20 cents per gallon in 2020 and 35 cents a gallon by 2030. EIA stated that, “Transportation costs, however, do increase significantly on a per-household basis since there are no provisions designed to dampen motor gasoline price impacts.” Furthermore, the analysis by the National Black Chamber of Commerce “reveals that businesses and consumers would face higher energy and transportation costs under [Waxman-Markey], which would lead to increased costs of other goods and services throughout the economy. As the costs of goods and services rise, household disposable income and household consumption would fall.”
Siedel also rests his claim on the precarious assumption that Congress will use revenues raised through cap-and-trade for their intended purpose. Declan McCullagh of CBS News put it best: “The tax revenue might end up being directed at income tax cuts (or rescuing kittens and feeding orphans, for that matter), or it could end up being wasted on boondoggles. If it is returned to American citizens, it's unlikely to be a wash: some people will end up paying much more in taxes, some will pay a little more, and some will see a net benefit.”
Consider the desperate search for revenues to pay for the Democrats’ government intrusion into private health care. On March 27, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said he wanted to use cap-and-trade revenues for healthcare reform. According to Bloomberg News: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he is open to financing an overhaul of the U.S. health-care system with revenue generated from efforts to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told reporters yesterday Democrats are determined to finance the cost of any expansion of health care with savings found elsewhere in the government’s budget in order to avoid widening the federal deficit. ‘I don’t think we should take anything off the table as to what we’re going to do with health care, what we’re going to do with this carbon that’s killing our country with global warming,’ said Reid.”
In your view, government imposing a mandate that forces consumers to pay more for something is not, in fact, a tax. As you wrote, “Seidel said there's another problem with the blogger's report, as quoted by the senator: the Treasury documents report that $100 billion to $200 billion in revenue raised each year by selling those pollution permits we mentioned earlier. Alexander and McCullagh incorrectly portray them as taxes. There are legitimate questions that can be raised about how much the cost might ultimately be passed on to consumers, but it is not correct to refer to the revenue as a tax.”
This is, to put it charitably, ridiculous. Consider the recent exchange between President Obama and George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Obama was asked by Stephanopoulos about Sen. Baucus’s “individual mandate” in the Senate health care bill. The Senate bill, which Obama supports, requires everyone to buy health insurance or else pay a penalty as high as $3,800 a year. Stephanopoulos asked that if "the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don't [buy insurance]. . . . How is that not a tax?"
"Well, hold on a second, George," Obama said. "Here's what's happening. You and I are both paying $900, on average—our families—in higher premiums because of uncompensated care. Now what I've said is that if you can't afford health insurance, you certainly shouldn't be punished for that. That's just piling on. If, on the other hand, we're giving tax credits, we've set up an exchange, you are now part of a big pool, we've driven down the costs, we've done everything we can and you actually can afford health insurance, but you've just decided, you know what, I want to take my chances. And then you get hit by a bus and you and I have to pay And then you get hit by a bus and you and I have to pay for the emergency room care, that's . . ."
"That may be," Mr. Stephanopoulos responded, "but it's still a tax increase." Mr. Obama: "No. That's not true, George. The—for us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it's saying is, is that we're not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore . . ."
“I don't think I'm making it up," Stephanopoulos said. He cited Merriam Webster’s dictionary definition of tax: "a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes."
This is exactly what cap-and-trade does. It raises costs on consumers (remember: electricity prices will necessarily skyrocket), then the government redistributes their money, through various subsidies and payment schemes. One hopes that one will remain whole at the end. Yet one is inclined to ask: how many times has government taken money from citizens and then paid all of it back? Cap-and-trade is a tax, plain and simple. And no attempts to hide it, ameliorate it, or gloss over it change that.
New York Times: Green Ink
Inhofe Pans Obama Climate Speech
By: Kate Galbriath
September 22, 2009
Reaction to President Obama’s speech on climate change this morning in New York is pouring in from across the political spectrum.
On the right, Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican, plans to deliver his own speech in Congress this afternoon arguing that the President’s speech “fell short of expectations, offering only talk of rising sea levels and climate refugees, with no constructive solutions for the challenges ahead.”
Mr. Inhofe — who has called the threat of global warming the “greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” — will argue that the talks to develop a climate treaty in Copenhagen have been “marred by failure.” A draft of his speech says:
I was surprised that President Obama failed to define what success will mean in Copenhagen. So I suppose I will have to do it for him. From the standpoint of the United States Senate, success will not mean a vague, open-ended commitment on emissions from India or China, the world’s leading emitter. Success can only mean that China and other developing countries agree to mandatory emissions cuts comparable to those required of America — and that any treaty or agreement avoid causing harm to our economy. Unless those conditions are met, no such treaty or agreement can be approved by the Senate.
On the left, Congressman Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and a co-sponsor of the climate bill passed by the House in June, praised Mr. Obama’s speech:
“Today, President Obama delivered a forceful argument for swift and bold international action to fight the catastrophic effects of global climate change,” Mr. Markey said. “To combat this grave threat, we must negotiate globally and act locally. Congress must pass comprehensive clean energy legislation as soon as possible to show the world we are committed to a clean energy future and help make the Copenhagen climate negotiations a success this December.”
Keya Chatterjee, the acting director of World Wildlife Fund’s climate program, criticized the speech for its lack of specifics, and urged action on a greenhouse gas reduction commitment in the Senate.
She said in a statement:
The speech as a whole represents a missed opportunity for the U.S. to take a leadership role and signal to the rest of the world that it is serious about tackling the threat of climate change. While other countries announced specific targets and timetables, including China, Japan and the Maldives, President Obama did not address these critical elements. It was also disappointing that he did not reaffirm his previous call for action on climate financing at the upcoming G-20 Summit.
Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, meanwhile, blasted the speech’s reference to rising temperatures, rising sea levels and other weather-related implications of climate change as “based on fantasy.”