Paul Ryan Is No Better Than Donald Trump For The Climate

Bill Scher

Speaker Paul Ryan deserves a modicum of credit for calling out Donald Trump on his racist statements.

But there’s a reason why Ryan still plans to vote for Trump: the huge overlap they have on policy. Their approach to the environment is Exhibit A.

Trump believes that global warming is a hoax and that fossil fuels are preferable to renewable energy.

And Ryan? Here’s what is in his new anti-regulatory package, titled “A Better Way.”

The report first argues that the federal government is not adept at managing natural resources:

On energy, the harmful effects of excessive federal regulation are readily apparent … only on state and privately owned lands has
the huge increase in oil and natural gas output occurred. On federal lands—where there is extensive red tape—production has actually stagnated. This alone proves state [sic] do a better job than the federal government of properly regulating and
managing energy.

Of course, it doesn’t prove anything of the sort. The federal government may be better at balancing multiple objectives — energy independence, maintaining parkland for public use and cutting carbon emissions — than the private sector. Or, looking at the question from a conservative standpoint, it may prove that the federal government is successfully getting out of the way of the private energy industry so it can save public land for different uses.

But in Ryan’s world, the only objective of importance is maximum fossil fuel energy extraction, no matter what the cost.

Ryan goes on to complain that “Unfortunately, the Obama administration is currently in the process of adding new regulatory burdens to state and private
lands, such as those targeting methane emissions and hydraulic fracturing.” There is no mention why the administration is doing that: because methane is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to one-sixth of the global warming problem. It’s one thing to argue that regulation is not the best way to solve the problem, but Ryan doesn’t even acknowledge the problem.

While global warming is a known problem, Ryan prefers battling an imaginary one: that the government is regulating energy without knowing if the regulations are necessary. So he backs various pieces of legislation designed to hamper the ability of the federal government to regulate at all, for example, turning a mandatory five-year review period for air quality rules into a 10-year period, and turning natural gas regulations over to the states, as if there was no national interest in protecting the climate.

A running thread throughout the document is the whitewashing of the climate crisis. For example, Ryan accuses the Obama administration for going beyond the law by incorporating greenhouse gas data into the rulemaking process:

Critics call it mission creep or ’empire building.’ While there are many examples, the most widespread one today surrounds global warming. Although Congress has not specifically granted any agency the authority to regulate on the basis of global warming, climate concerns have been used to breathe new life into many existing regulatory programs.

But as Ryan certainly knows, the Supreme Court has already ruled that when Congress granted the EPA the authority to regulate air pollution in the Clean Air Act, that included greenhouse gas pollution.

Later, Ryan treats global warming strictly as a hinderance to maximum fossil fuel extraction:

The already-complex maze of energy regulations has been made considerably worse by the addition of global warming considerations. The combustion of fossil fuels results in unavoidable emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and efforts to target these emissions are a serious and growing barrier to energy development and use.

Ryan willfully ignores that the planet “has been made considerably worse by the addition of global warming” requiring action to make the planet better.

But what do you expect? He’s voting for Donald Trump.

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