Obama’s Climate Summer

Bill Scher

With an year-and-a-half left to go in the Oval Office, President Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency continue to crank out plans to cut our carbon emissions before the clock runs out.

Today, the EPA issued a legal finding that compels the agency to develop regulations reducing airplane emissions. Next up is a draft rule that would cut truck emissions and another clamping down on methane leaks from oil and natural gas productions.

And by August we should see the final rules for Obama’s centerpiece, capping carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants. The states will then have a year to submit compliance plans to the EPA.

All of this activity stands to strengthen our hand for December’s international climate talks convening in Paris. The G-7 just announced a shared goal to cuts emissions 70 percent by 2050, further raising expectations for global consensus at the end of the year.

As you would expect, congressional Republicans are looking to push back this summer with legislation blocking much of this activity. The legislation is sure to be filibustered or vetoed. Furthermore, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is even urging states to break the law and ignore the EPA’s call for state climate plans. These moves are unlikely to succeed substantively. But will they help the GOP politically in 2016, especially in fossil fuel-friendly swing states like Ohio and Colorado?

Consider that a Republican donor has pledged to spend $175 million to persuade his party to accept climate science and develop real solutions. Plus presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham is further communicating the need for Republicans to come to the climate table. These gentlemen are complicating the GOP’s attempt to paint Obama as some sort of environmental extremist.

There will be bipartisan messages that the climate crisis is real and needs solutions. The congressional GOP will be exposed as not only extremist, but obstructionist and clueless.

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