Sen. James Inhofe 1/27/2010 via Human Events
President Obama’s health care bill is on life support, and his destructive cap-and-trade energy tax proposal on Capitol Hill is also all but dead.
Of course, this is no surprise to those who follow the politics of cap-and-trade. The great public backlash against this tax on electricity, gasoline and just about everything else reached the boiling point last August, when constituents at town hall meetings denounced it as a big-government scheme that they couldn’t afford.
?Many in Congress got the message. After the House passed the disastrous 1,400-page Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill in the dead of night last summer, those who supported it quickly sensed the public outrage against the bill. In fact, if it were voted on today, Waxman-Markey couldn’t pass the House because so many one-time supporters have recanted their votes.
Take, for example, Rep. Rick Boucher (D.-Va.), who helped rally support for Waxman-Markey from moderate Democrats, and whose Southwestern Virginia district is heavily reliant on coal. Boucher’s local paper, the Kingsport Times News, reported in August that he “voted for cap-and-trade legislation but said he doesn’t endorse the House-passed version of the bill.” Boucher explained his “I-voted-for-it-before-I-voted-against-it” stance this way: “I voted for it because I had to do that to be part of the process and to make the changes that have been made.”
Rep. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.), a GOP candidate for Senate in Illinois, was similarly Janus-faced when he said, “Let me say briefly about cap and trade: I voted for it because it was in the narrow interest of my congressional district. As your representative, representing the entire state of Illinois, I would vote no on that bill coming up.”
This turnabout on cap-and-trade grew stronger in the weeks leading up to the U.N.’s international global-warming conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, last December. It became clear that cap-and-trade was going nowhere in the Senate — a message I helped personally deliver in Copenhagen, much to the dismay of UN elites. Yet despite this brute fact, those elites still believed President Obama would persuade the Senate to support cap-and-trade and then would bridge the gaping divides preventing agreement on a global-warming treaty. But that didn’t occur: China and India, the world’s leading emitters of CO2, along with other developing countries, continued to oppose mandatory cuts in emissions.
Getting China and India to accept mandatory reductions on par with those from America is the sine qua non of any global-warming treaty. Without it, the U.S. Senate will do what it did in 1997, which was vote 95 to 0 against the Kyoto global-warming treaty, which left out China and India. Yet in the face of this position, the Obama administration hinted it might commit the U.S. to a legally binding treaty without Senate ratification. President Obama was then sternly rebuked by Sen. Jim Webb (D.-Va.), who wrote in a letter to Obama, “Although details have not been made available, recent statements … indicate that negotiators may be intending to commit the United States to a nationwide emission-reduction program. As you well know from your time in the Senate, only specific legislation agreed upon in the Congress, or a treaty ratified by the Senate, could actually create such a commitment on behalf of our country.”
After last week’s upset victory by Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Republicans now have 41 seats in the Senate. This means many things, but one thing is clear: President Obama’s cap-and-trade plans are history.
Less than 24 hours after Brown’s victory, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D.-Calif.) joined many of her fellow Democrats (Rockefeller, Landrieu, Nelson, to name a few) by publicly declaring cap-and-trade dead for the year. As she noted last week, “I think it’s clear from the hiatus that a large cap-and-trade bill isn’t going to go ahead at this time.” And earlier this month, Rep. Collin Peterson (D.-Minn.), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said cap-and-trade “isn’t going anyplace in the Senate” (for good measure he added that would switch his voted to “no” if the House voted on Waxman-Markey, or anything like it, again).
Blocking EPA Madness
So now all eyes turn to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which President Obama hopes to use to implement his global-warming agenda notwithstanding bipartisan congressional opposition. In December, just prior to the Copenhagen conference, EPA declared that, under the Clean Air Act, greenhouse gases (including CO2) from motor vehicles are “endangering public health and welfare,” thus requiring regulation. The finding per se — based on hopelessly flawed science — is bad enough, yet what’s worse is that it will lead to a regulatory dragnet covering every corner of the economy, including schools, farms, hospitals, nursing homes and commercial buildings.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R.-Alaska) has introduced a “resolution of disapproval” that, if passed by the House and Senate, and signed by the President, would overturn the “endangerment finding” and stop EPA’s regulatory madness. This resolution, made pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, cannot be filibustered, which means it only needs only 51, rather than 60, votes for passage. Of course President Obama won’t sign if it reaches his desk, but that would make clear that EPA’s regulatory juggernaut is all his own.
So the question remains: Will President Obama continue to ignore the vast majority of Americans who want Washington to focus on jobs and the economy, or will he press ahead with his radical global-warming agenda that will destroy jobs and hobble the economy? Only time will tell, but with unemployment at 10%, time is running out, for this decision could determine the fate of his presidency.
Mr. Inhofe, a Republican, is ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
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