President Barack Obama delivered a much-anticipated speech at Georgetown University Tuesday, pledging to use executive orders to implement Federal regulations on power plant emissions of carbon dioxide after being stonewalled by a Democrat-controlled Congress during his first term.
Calling climate change the “threat of our time,” the President settled the controversy over the existence of human-generated global warming and ended any debate about its relative significance by admonishing:
The question is not whether we need to act. The overwhelming judgment of science, of chemistry and physics — millions of measurements have put all that to rest. Ninety-seven per cent of scientists — including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data — have put that to rest. They have acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity has contributed to it.
As an American; as a president; as a father, I am here to say, “We need to act.” Our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind.
Ahead of Obama’s climate change speech, Harvard Environmental Center Director and White House “climate adviser” Daniel P. Schrag told The New York Times that, for the Obama Administration, “a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”
“Everybody is waiting for action,” Schrag said. “The one thing the President really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.”
Why is Obama doing this? In his stillborn, scandal-plagued second term, there is hardly much current political capital the President can tap for even a benign policy initiative. And taking decisive action against the coal industry — in the form of penalties for power plants that generate electricity through the burning of coal — is about as benign an initiative as instituting a state religion.
“When Democrats controlled both the House and Senate, Obama could not get climate control legislation passed. That explains why he is now seeking to go around Congress to enact anti-coal regulations by fiat,” writes Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post, who goes on to argue that nothing Obama could have planned will galvanize his political opponents — as well as make opponents of regular Americans affected by the higher energy prices his policies will yield — than living out an Al Gore-type executive fantasy of implementing regressive, punitive energy goals:
The reason even Democrats balked on climate change regulations in the first term (it stalled in the Senate) is because it is economically debilitating, especially in energy producing states; politically unpopular in red states and among the vast majority of all conservatives nationwide; and useless (so long as China, India, etc. don’t follow suit it does virtually nothing for the planet as a whole — even if one buys the global warming hysteria)…
…Conservatives are once again bonded together in common cause against a president bizarrely antagonistic toward domestic energy production and low energy prices. The gubernatorial campaign of Ken Cuccinelli, in a dog fight with Democrat Terry McAuliffe, let loose on the Democrats’ plans, citing the energy resources in Virginia that directly or indirectly contribute to nearly 20,000 jobs and $2.5 billion toward the state economy. Now, there’s an issue that may turn out his base and get independents riled up.
Whether Obama’s executive actions on coal regulations can be mitigated by a saner President in the future, he’s already arming Republicans with everything they need to make mincemeat of their Democratic opponents in local and State elections.