Two Steps Obama Can Do to Position the U.S.
Since the Kyoto talks in 1997, global warming predictions have only worsened. Yes, the polar bears are in trouble. But what about 20 feet of sea-level rise in downtown
Conversely, the climate for action in Washington has only improved since 1997. Obama, like Clinton, faces a Congress seemingly hesitant to ratify a treaty or pass its own emissions cuts consistent with the science. But Obama, unlike Clinton, has the Supreme Court on his side. The Court declared carbon dioxide -- the main greenhouse gas -- a pollutant in 2007, giving the U.S. EPA the authority to require reductions from carbon-intensive industries.
Everyone would prefer that Congress make policy through legislation, of course. But if a final, strong bill doesn't emerge prior to the December Copenhagen talks, Obama should do two things. First, solidify a mutually beneficial bilateral agreement with China assuring ambitious cuts there. And, second, commit the United States to sharp reductions at home, justified under the Clean Air Act and enforced by the EPA.
These two steps - with or without Congress - will move America to the position it should have occupied since 1997: leading the world in creating clean-energy jobs at home and securing a safe, life-giving climate worldwide. No one is giving up on Congress, of course. Key members have pledged strong action prior to December. But knowing there's a Plan B - one that didn't exist for Clinton - changes the game totally.
October 6, 2009; 3:38 PM ET
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Posted by: A1965bigdog | October 11, 2009 8:31 AM
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