Kristina Baum (EPW) – 202.224.6176

Donelle Harder (EPW) – 202.224.4721

Inhofe, GOP Senators Question POTUS on International Climate Pledge

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, led 10 senators today in sending a letter to President Obama requesting a detailed response for how the United States will meet a pledge of 26-28 percent emissions reduction by 2025, as submitted in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

In the letter, the members focused questions on four key areas regarding the ongoing international climate negotiations, including the economy wide greenhouse gas reduction goal, legal framework, the U.S.-China announcement and the corresponding INDC, and the regulatory impact on jobs and the economy. The members request a response by July 22.

“While the U.S. pledge is long on promises, it is short on details that would, in the words of the INDC, provide ‘information to facilitate the clarity, transparency, and understanding of the contribution.’  For example, nowhere in the INDC does it lay out, either by sector or by greenhouse gas, how it expects to deliver on its pledge,” the Senators said in the letter.  “We have serious concerns that you and your Administration are rushing headlong into an agreement that would harm U.S. interests. The sheer magnitude and likely long-term impacts on the direction of the nation demand robust and transparent communication between the Executive and Legislative branches, particularly with respect to the Senate and its Constitutional advice and consent responsibilities.”

The letter was signed by: Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman on the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy; David Vitter (R-La.); Roger Wicker (R-Miss.); Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.); Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.); Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska); John Boozman (R-Ark.); Mike Rounds (R-S.D.); Roy Blunt (R-Mo.); and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

In an EPW Committee hearing today, witnesses highlighted that the president will not be able to deliver on his promise to the international community.  Mr. David Bookbinder, a former Sierra Club climate counsel and partner at Element VI, drove the message that the President's goals in the INDC to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 were unrealistic and unattainable.  Bookbinder argued that the disparity came down to mere arithmetic and that the numbers simply did not add up.  Mr. Jeff Holmstead, partner at Bracewell & Guiliani, gave caution that the next industry to be targeted by the administration's aggressive agenda to regulate emissions would be agriculture  in order to close the gap and reach 28 percent.  Furthermore, Jeremy Rabkin, a professor of law at George Mason University's School of Law, drew attention to the unprecedented move by the administration that would “take us down the road which European countries have followed within the European Union…where  bureaucrats consult bureaucrats and ordinary voters are more confused about who is responsible for what happens in their own country.”

To view the full text of the letter, click here.