Noon: The march to Paris has begun
Less than one month from now the nations of the world will meet in Paris for the 21st United Nations Convention on Climate Change, or COP21.
President Obama is “cautiously optimistic” that a global climate agreement will finally be reached. As stated during the Oct. 11 edition of 60 Minutes, he sees this as more important than fighting ISIS: “My definition of leadership would be leading on climate change, an international accord that potentially we’ll get in Paris.”
This “accord” will not be an enforceable “treaty” as was The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change negotiated in 1997 and signed by President Clinton but never ratified by the U.S. Congress. The Kyoto Protocol expired at the end of 2012. Supporters have since been scrambling to reach a new deal. Once again, however, Congress will not ratify any such agreement — leaving the President to “lead by example” through executive and regulatory actions that have little chance of Congressional success.
The Clean Power Plan, or CPP, is, as stated by NPR: “the centerpiece of President Obama’s broader climate agenda.” NPR continues: “he’s urging other big countries to take similarly aggressive action in advance of an international climate summit in Paris.”
CPP — in case you haven’t been following the process that introduced draft rules in 2014, with finalized rules released in August and then, after more than three times the usual lag time, the 2000-page regulation was published in the Federal Register on October 23 — “orders states to reorganize their energy systems from power plants to electric outlets,” says the Wall Street Journal. It requires a cut in power-plant carbon emissions of 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
Less than 12 hours after publication in the Federal Register, CPP became “the most heavily litigated environmental regulation ever” — with more than 15 separate cases from 26 states and countless industry groups filed against it in just two days. All the lawsuits have been consolidated into one case at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
It is widely expected to, ultimately, be heard before the Supreme Court — which may not hear the case until 2018. By the time a final ruling is made, the Obama administration believes that, as was the case with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, industry will have already done so much to comply with the rule, that the high court’s decision will be almost irrelevant.
It is this timeline that prompted lawsuits to not only overturn CPP, but to also ask for a stay of the rule while the court decides on the case. The Environmental Protection Agency offered its recommendations for scheduling legal arguments — which the federal appeals court signed off on.
Effectively kicking the can down the road, the last day for arguments will be Dec.23. So, no decision on whether to block implementation of the standards while the litigation plays out will be made until early 2016 — saving Obama embarrassment in Paris.
The court’s decision won’t be made before COP21, but Congress’ will be.
Both chambers of Congress are working on resolutions of disapproval aimed at blocking the rule. The Congressional Review Act, or CRA, according to the Wall Street Journal, “allows Congress to nullify regulations within 60 days of their publication into the Federal Register with a simple majority of members.” The CRA resolutions of disapproval are not subject to a filibuster in the Senate — though they are subject to presidential veto. While the expected passage of the resolutions will not ultimately block CPP, it will send a signal to international negotiators that whatever agreement is reached in Paris will not receive support at home.
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy.