Tuesday, 04 August 2015

President Obama Unveils “Clean Power Plan” to “Combat Climate Change”

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During a press event in the East Room of the White House on August 3, President Obama unveiled a major climate change plan. The “Clean Power Plan,” is the final version of regulations established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In a video released by the White House on social media Saturday night, President Obama called the plan “the biggest most important step we've ever taken to combat climate change.” 

Obama’s announcement focused heavily on climate change and followed his administration’s standard position that such change is caused by man-made carbon dioxide emissions. He also pulled no punches in identifying the culprit he and his administration assert is responsible for this catastrophic dilemma, stating that “existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air.” Continuing, he noted:

Two years ago, I directed [EPA Administrator] Gina [McCarthy] and the Environmental Protection Agency to take on this challenge. And today, after working with states and cities and power companies, the EPA is setting the first-ever nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants.

During his address, Obama went beyond the more obvious ill-effects of air pollution (which everyone would want to minimize) such as its contribution to asthma and other respiratory diseases, to the more controversial and much-disputed claim that industrial carbon dioxide emissions create warming of the Earth’s temperature — the so-called greenhouse gas effect. The president’s gloom-and-doom scenario unfolded as follows:

Now, not everyone here is a scientist — [laughter] — but some of you are among the best scientists in the world. And what you and your colleagues have been showing us for years now is that human activities are changing the climate in dangerous ways. Levels of carbon dioxide, which heats up our atmosphere, are higher than they’ve been in 800,000 years; 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. And we’ve been setting a lot of records in terms of warmest years over the last decade. One year doesn’t make a trend, but 14 of the 15 warmest years on record have fallen within the first 15 years of this century.

Just minutes before Obama delivered his address, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), speaking on the Senate floor, criticized the president’s plan. Among his objections to the proposed new regulations were: “They’re projected to cost billions,” “They threaten to ship good Middle-Class jobs overseas,” “They’ll likely make it harder to maintain reliable sources of energy to meet demand,” and “They’re also likely to result in high energy bills for those who can least afford them, potentially raising electricity rates by double digits for the people I represent.”

Senator McConnell — who apparently accepts the premise that carbon emissions affect the global (as opposed to the local) climate — also questioned whether the regulations would even have a positive effect, stating: 

Not only will these massive regulations fail to meaningfully affect the global climate, but they could actually end up harming the environment by outsourcing energy production to countries with poor environmental records like India and China.

McConnell also questioned the legality of the plan and said that in anticipation of what the administration would do, he had already written to the nation’s governors earlier this year, “suggesting they take a responsible wait-and-see approach and allow the courts to weigh in before subjecting their citizens to such unnecessary pain.”

Several 2016 presidential candidates commented on the Obama “Clean Power Plan,” reported USA Today. Their assessments predictably followed partisan lines. Former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton said the plan “drives investments in clean energy and energy efficiency, reduces asthma attacks and premature deaths, and promotes a healthier environment and a stronger economy.”

Another candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the Obama plan sounds “like a step forward in ending our dependence on fossil fuel, and I support that effort.”

As expected, Republicans were critical of the plan. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said Obama should call his project the “Costly Power Plan,” predicting that “it will cost hard-working Americans jobs and raise their energy rates.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made the same point as McConnell, noting that China, India, and other developing nations “are going to continue to burn anything they can get their hands on.”

And another Republican candidate, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, said he has doubts that federal courts will uphold the Obama energy regulations. Criticizing the plan, Kasich said that “my understanding is [the authors of the plan] don’t like coal, they don’t like natural gas; I don’t know what they like.”

The Washington Examiner quoted a statement from candidate Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who said at a forum hosted by a coal trade group that she would repeal the “Costly Power Plan” emission rules if elected president.

“They’re terrible. Every single one of them should be repealed,” Fiorina said during a question-and-answer session.

However, neither McConnell nor the leading GOP candidates addressed the more fundamental question that should form the basis for opposition to such executive branch overreach on environmental policies: Is there conclusive scientific evidence that manmade activities such as carbon emissions have had any significant effect on the world’s climate?

Many reputable scientists think there is not, and that there is even evidence suggesting that the natural cycle of global warming has reversed itself in recent years and that global temperatures have actually decreased.

As The New American noted in a recent article, a leading British climate researcher, Lord Christopher Monckton — who was chief policy advisor to the Science and Public Policy Institute and former special advisor to former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher from 1982 to 1986 — stated in a recent report that there has been no global warming at all for 18 years and six months.

Monckton wrote that “the predictions on which the entire climate scare was based were extreme exaggerations” and referred to data collected by a private research company called Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), founded in 1974 by Frank Wentz, who was a member of NASA’s SeaSat Experiment Team.

Monckton is far from alone. Many other credible scientists have stated that global warming — if it exists at all — is simply a natural periodic phenomenon rather than something caused by anthropogenic (human) activity. Many of these scientists have participated in the Heartland Institute’s annual International Conference on Climate Change, which has served as an impartial forum to discuss this topic.

The New American has covered several of Heartland’s climate conferences (See, for example, 2008 Climate Debate: Science Conference Challenges Global Warming Alarmism and Video Interview with Willie Soon, Ph.D. — Heartland Institute Climate Conference 2010).

Among the global-warming “skeptics” who have presented evidence countering the prevailing global-warming theories at these conferences are Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore (now considered a heretic by those who insist that global warming is caused by man); Dr. Alan Carlin, the EPA whistleblower who exposed the EPA’s fraudulent science used to declare CO2 a “pollutant”; Dr. Willie Soon, the astrophysicist whose discoveries debunked the “hockey stick” computer modelers; Dr. Sherwood Idso, one of the world’s leading researchers on carbon dioxide; and Dr. S. Fred Singer, atmospheric and space physicist, prolific author, and first director of the National Weather Satellite Service.

Many other scientists' names could be added to this list. The debate on global warming is obviously far from settled — a point that opponents of the administration’s “Clean Power Plan” would do well to use to their advantage. The EPA should not be able to impose a slew of new regulations based upon unproven, disputed theories.

Photo of President Barack Obama: AP Images

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