Senate EPW Committee Sets the Record Straight on Obama’s Misguided Climate Agenda 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today released a new EPW Majority White Paper titled, Forecast for COP21: Senate Predicts Obama’s Climate Promises Come Up Short Again providing the first comprehensive account of the Senate’s legislative and oversight efforts during the 114th Congress to set the record straight on the Obama administration’s misguided climate agenda in the context of historical international agreements and negotiations leading up to the 21st session of the Conference of Parties (COP21) pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, 2015. 

“The white paper fully brings to light the Obama administration’s futile and costly efforts to bind the United States to an international climate agreement,” said Inhofe. “This paper provides the necessary context of historical international agreements leading up to COP21, and provides the American people and the international community with a comprehensive tool to take a closer look at the president’s radical climate agenda.  As the president urges action to fulfill his personal climate legacy in Paris, the American people and their representatives in Congress have strongly voiced opposition to any deal that is reached and will not tolerate American tax dollars being used for an economically disastrous policy. This potluck approach to international policy will not accomplish anything substantial.  The president’s submitted U.S. INDC of 26-28 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions doesn’t even add up to what it claims, and will not add up to achieve any measurable impact on curbing global temperatures or curtailing global warming.  I look forward to reviewing what deal emerges from COP21, and plan to invite administration officials to testify before the Senate EPW Committee on what was accomplished at the expense of American tax dollars.”


As stated in the one-page summary:

The Senate EPW Committee has held eight hearings of either the Full Committee or Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, sent more than a dozen letters and document requests to the administration, and issued a 72-page oversight staff report related to the Obama administration’s climate efforts during the 114th Congress.  Furthermore, the Senate voted to disapprove the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final regulations for coal-fired power plants, which are the cornerstone of Obama’s climate agenda and international pledge.  Senate resolutions have been recently introduced that reiterate the Senate’s role in providing advice and consent for the U.S. to join international climate agreements.  Such efforts are critical given the following findings documented in the White Paper: 

  • Congress, under both Democrats or Republicans majorities, has a history of opposing international agreements, legislation, and regulations targeting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would undermine the welfare of the American people and the economy. 
  • President Obama has pursued radical environmental policies to “decarbonize” the U.S. economy through unilateral executive actions, rather than work with Congress to develop policies that reflect the consensus view and have broad public support.
  • The Obama Administration’s pledge to reduce GHG emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025 (per the U.S. intended nationally determined contribution, or INDC) does not withstand scrutiny.  The actions in the INDC do not add up to 26 to 28 percent and are unlikely to be fully implemented due to litigation challenges and policy objections.
  • President Obama’s international climate financing pledge of $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) for developing countries is not supported by Congress.
  • The Obama Administration has failed to be fully transparent and forthcoming with the American people, Congress, and the international community regarding U.S. actions.
  • Other countries appear to be using the COP-21 process as a way to bolster their own domestic coffers, at the expense of the American people. 
  • The Senate must be able to exercise its constitutional role to approve any agreement setting targets or timetables that emerges from COP-21.
  • Absent approval by the Senate, any deal announced at COP-21will be little more than a press release, with no binding accountability or enforcement mechanisms in place.  Such an agreement is also limited in duration as the next Administration could change its pledge.
  • While President Obama has already claimed “victory” at COP-21 due to other countries’ GHG reduction pledges, these are mere promises, and there is no requirement they will be implemented.  U.S. action alone won’t have an impact on global climate change.
  • The COP-21 agreement will likely be based on political commitments from President Obama, an approach that is no different than the go-it-alone strategy used throughout his Administration, but now his onerous regulations will be promised to the world, serving to boost his environmental legacy, rather than advance the interest of the American people who do not consider climate change an important issue.  


On Nov. 30, Inhofe had an op-ed published with CNN called, “Beware of Empty Climate Promises.”

On Nov. 19, Inhofe and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), introduced a bipartisan resolution expressing the sense of the Senate with regard to any agreement reached at the 21st session of the Conference of Parties pursuant to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held this December. The purpose of the resolution is to further inform the international community of the U.S. Senate’s respective role.

On Nov. 19, Inhofe and Barrasso and their colleagues sent a letter to the president encouraging U.S. negotiators to be forthcoming to foreign counterparts of Congress’s role over the Green Climate Fund and any binding agreement.

On Nov. 18, Hofstra University Professor of Law, Julian Ku, testified that the president could not legally bind the United States to make emission reduction targets through a sole executive agreement and that any attempt to suggest otherwise could result in “misleading foreign governments” or “violat[ing] the Constitution.”  Oren Cass, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute highlighted how the UN negotiations ultimately are an attempt to redistribute developed countries cash in the form of “climate finance,” which the U.S. congress can “strongly resist.” Mr. Stephen Eule, vice president of Climate and Technology at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy, revealed that other countries’ INDCs are nothing more than business as usual since developing countries have a much greater interest in “pursing economic growth and poverty eradication than … reducing GHG emissions.”

On Nov. 17, the U.S. Senate voted to disapprove of President Obama’s signature legacy regulation on global warming in S.J.Res. 23 and S.J.Res. 24. S.J.Res. 23 was introduced by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and S.J.Res. 24 was introduced by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

On Aug. 4, the Senate EPW Committee released a Majority Staff Oversight Report titled, Obama’s Carbon Mandate: An Account of Collusion, Cutting Corners, and Costing Americans Billions. The report is the product of an ongoing investigation by committee Republicans on EPA’s development of Obama’s climate rules.  The full report can be read here.

On July 8, Mr. David Bookbinder, former Sierra Club chief climate counsel, testified before the U.S. Senate EPW Committee, that the president’s goal would fall dramatically short of meeting the president’s target to cut emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Even the minority witness from the World Resources Institute admitted that additional actions would have to take place, which former EPA Air Administrator, Jeff Holmstead suggested would likely come through “a greater regulatory burden on rural America” in the form of agriculture and other industrial regulations. 

On July 8, Inhofe led ten Senators in a letter to President Obama requesting a detailed response for how the U.S. will plan to meet a pledge of 26-28 percent emissions reduction by 2025, as represented by the INDC submitted to the UNFCCC. Senators are still awaiting the president’s response.

On Feb. 2, Inhofe released a statement on the president’s budget proposal, in which Inhofe said, “I will not support any special funds, including the $500 million for the Green Climate Fund, to further [the president’s] climate agenda that is eroding states’ rights and making it unnecessarily difficult to do business in America.” 

To read the full text of the white paper, click here.