THE Obama administration touts climate change as a “legacy” issue. On Tuesday the president unveiled several measures to supposedly combat it. The most significant involves stricter carbon-pollution standards for new and existing power plants — imposed without congressional approval.
Doing an end run around public accountability and governmental checks-and-balances is troubling, but that's hardly the only flaw in Obama's scheme.
If his plans are implemented, Obama's “legacy” will include higher consumer costs, lower quality of life and zero impact on climate change. None.
The problem for Obama is that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have already been declining for years, but foreign production is increasing. Thanks largely to increased natural gas production — which occurred despite Obama — market forces are causing U.S. power production to naturally shift from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas. U.S. carbon emissions are down almost 13 percent since 2008.
But at the same time, foreign coal use is surging. As The Oklahoman's Adam Wilmoth noted recently, China and India together are averaging four new coal power plants every week. In 2011, China added more coal plants than there are in Texas and Ohio combined. China now accounts for half of global coal consumption.
U.S. coal exports reached a record 13.6 million short tons in March. More than 100 million short tons may be exported this year. Just because we won't burn the coal here doesn't mean it won't be burned. Obama's efforts to further reduce U.S. emissions are meaningless. Writing at National Review online, Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, noted, “Over the past decade, global carbon dioxide emissions would have risen by 2.6 billion tons even if U.S. emissions had gone to zero.”
Furthermore, it remains debatable that mankind is causing climate change. The globe hasn't warmed as predicted for more than a decade now, even with emissions increasing.