If there’s anything the flat-earth knuckleheads hate more than science, it’s a president who is poised to act on the basis of that science.
And executive action is imminent. Roughly two weeks from today, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency will crack down on the power plants that spew carbon. Their goal is to actually do something about manmade climate change warming, by targeting America’s top source of greenhouse gases. Makes sense to me. At a time when 97 percent of scientists say that humans bear major responsibility for melting glaciers, rising seas, increased coastal flooding, and worsening storms, our top elected leader intends to act.
The power plant crackdown will be historic, and, ideally, Congress would’ve signed off on it. But because Congress has predictably burned its bridges – thanks to the right-wing ideologues, to the pols in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, and to the terrified red-state Democrats up for re-election – Obama rightly decided that executive action was the only way forward.
Heck, somebody in public office has to govern in the national interest.
No other issue so thoroughly exposes the fatuous, blinkered nature of domestic politics as it is practiced today. Politics is all about winning the next election. It’s focused like a laser on the short-term; even worse, the climate change dialogue is distorted by Koch brothers cash and the conservative infauxtainment complex (which in turn nurtures the trolls).
Back in March, House Republicans voted to block the imminent power plant crackdown (a meaningless gesture, as usual), calling it “one of the most extreme regulations of the Obama administration.” Meanwhile, red-state Democratic senatorial candidates, like Mark Begich and Alison Lundergan Grimes, have distanced themselves from crackdown. Indeed, as political analyst Ronald Brownstein wittily puts it, “Miami will likely be underwater before the Senate can muster enough votes to meaningfully confront climate change.”
So Obama’s only choice was to circumvent the legislative stalemate, to ignore the political exigencies of the next election and think long-term.
And it’s not just about us. China and America are the globe’s top carbon polluters, but in 2012 they agreed, along with other nations, to negotiate a new international climate change treaty by 2015. We’ll have more credibility in the negotiations – more ability to persuade other nations to crack down on carbon – once we can demonstrate, via Obama’s executive action, that we’re working to do that at home.
(One big downside of an executive action: It can be reversed by a future president’s stroke of a pen. But for that to happen, the GOP actually has to win back the White House. On TV yesterday, party chairman Reince Prieus said of Hillary Clinton, “I actually doubt very much whether she actually will run for president in 2016.” Run that line through the bull-meter, and here’s the translation: “We’re terrified that she will run, because if she does, she will kick our ass and ensure that we lose the popular vote for the sixth time in seven elections.”)
But we were talking about the imminent EPA carbon crackdown. This summer, we’ll get the predictable loony rhetoric about how Obama is behaving like a tyrant or whatever, and we’ll get the predictable lawsuits from right-wing legal eagles who claim that the EPA’s action is unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court, by a 6-2 vote, signaled in April that the agency (created in 1970, in a law signed by Republican Richard Nixon) has wide latitude to curb air pollution. The court OK’d an EPA rule that requires coal plants to curb smog and soot emissions that drift across state lines.
Justice Scalia dissented, natch, declaring in one fabulous passage that the EPA smog rule sounds like “a Marxist concept,” and we’ll surely hear that kind of rhetoric when the climate change crackdown is announced. We’ll also hear a lot about its dire “job-killing” potential – from the very private enterprise enthusiasts who usually extol the dynamic adapability of the private sector.
So let ’em all rail; it’s the price we have to pay for progress. And, for Democrats in particular, it’s worth losing a few ’14 elections if it helps us win the future. Or at least take some responsibility for it.
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