Obama’s New Climate Plan
by Stephen Lendman
It’s typical Obama. It’s largely old wine in new bottles. It’s more duplicitous than real. Rhetoric belies policy. He does it every time. His credibility’s sorely lacking. He’s a serial liar. It remains to be seen what follows.
A White House web site posting headlined “CLIMATE CHANGE and President Obama’s Action Plan.”
On June 25, he said:
“So the question is not whether we need to act. (It’s) whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.”
“As a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act.”
A follow-up press release headlined “Presidential Memorandum – Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards,” saying:
“With every passing day, the urgency of addressing climate change intensifies.”
“I made clear in my State of the Union address that my Administration is committed to reducing carbon pollution that causes climate change, preparing our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speeding the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to reduce power plant carbon pollution, building on actions already underway in States and the power sector, I hereby direct the following:”
“Section 1. Flexible Carbon Pollution Standards for Power Plants
a. Carbon Pollution Standards for Future Power Plants
b. Carbon Pollution Regulation for Modified, Reconstructed, and Existing Power Plants
c. Development of Standards, Regulations, or Guidelines for Power Plants
Sec. 2. General Provisions.”
In 2009, Obama promoted cap and trade. It wasn’t enacted. Perhaps he plans a new version. His earlier one was a stealth scheme. It permitted pollution, speculative trading and fraud.
It had nothing to do with clean energy, achieving energy independence, and improving climate conditions beneficially. It was about letting corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits.
At issue was higher energy and fuel prices. It was about speculative carbon derivatives trading. It was about manipulating markets for profit. It passed the House. It died in the Senate. It wasn’t addressed.
Then House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Energy Environment Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey falsely claimed it would create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path to energy independence, reduce our foreign oil dependence, and save billions of dollars.
It would unleash trillions of energy investment dollars, they said. It would cut global warming pollution. It would strengthen our economy.
It would make “America the world leader in new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.”
Strong-arm pressure, threats and bribes preceded passage. Washington works that way. Popular interests don’t matter. Corporate bosses make policy.
Polluters loved it. So did and corporate-friendly environmental groups. At the time, Friends of the Earth president Brent Blackwelder took issue.
He said corporate polluters Shell and Duke Energy wrote the bill. What benefits them harms everyone except other profiteers.
Public Citizen called the bill a new way to pollute. It solved nothing environmentally. It benefitted powerful, oil, coal and nuclear interests.
Carbon trading’s a scam. In the 1980s, it was promoted. Clinton made it a key 1997 Kyoto Protocol provision. He signed it in 1998. It wasn’t ratified.
Obama’s so-called 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act was about profits writ large, not environmental protection. Its emissions reduction targets were too weak. They encouraged pollution. They created new profit centers to do it.
Wall Street stood to benefit hugely. Enactment would have created a speculative carbon derivatives trading bonanza. Estimates ranged between $2 – 10 trillion in five years.
At the time, Clinton’s Undersecretary of Commerce Robert J. Shapiro said:
“We are on the verge of creating a new trillion dollar market (through) financial assets that will be securitized, derivatized, and speculated by Wall Street like the mortgage-backed securities market.”
Solari Investment Advisory Services’ Catherine Austin Fitts said:
“(H)old on to your hat. Carbon trading (enactment will) make the housing and derivative bubbles look like target practice.”
Other critics called it a scam. The great American bubble machine found another one. Resurrecting it may be planned.
Hundreds of cleverly crafted provisions conceal their real purpose. Corporate lawyers and lobbyists writing them assure it.
Tyson Slocum heads Public Citizen’s energy program. On June 25, he headlined “Obama’s Climate Plan: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.”
It’s hard finding anything good Obama promotes. Throughout his tenure, he did more harm to more people globally than most of his predecessors combined.
He has lots more life-destroying plans in mind. He’s by far America’s worst president. He menaces humanity like no one else.
Slocum hopes he’ll “rewrite rules for new plants (the old standard, which just passed its deadline in April, essentially blocked new coal power plants, so there’s a strong chance the rewrite will weaken the original standard) and develop rules over all existing power plants.”
At issue is will policy match his rhetoric. His record suggests otherwise. Don’t bet he’ll change now. His initiative builds on auto tailpipe standards.
“The downside,” said Slocum, “is that the late 2015 final rule date is far off in the future, and will be wrought with lengthy legal challenges, lending an awful lot of uncertainty to the outcome.”
His plan includes renewable targets and efficiency on federal land, other government operations, in military ones, and in Washington-assisted housing.
Allegedly he’ll target Big Oil subsidies. It’s likely talk without followthrough. Don’t bet he’ll follow through and do it.
The “bad,” says Slocum, includes no mention “of using a uniform, strong climate change impact assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act, which would require the costs and impacts of GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) in every federal environmental impact statement.”
Slocum calls failure to utilize NEPA for GHG assessment “a major oversight.” Loan guarantees for so-called “clean coal” “is a taxpayer boondoggle waiting to happen.”
Big Coal stands to profit hugely. So do Big Oil and other energy giants. They write legislation sent to Congress. They write all congressional bills.
Doing so assures provisions included benefit them greatly. Politicians are bribed to go along. Millions in campaign funds convince them.
So do insider trading stock tips, front running opportunities, free corporate travel, and other benefits. Who said crime doesn’t pay?
The “ugly,” says Slocum, includes Obama’s ” ‘all of the above’ strategy.” It includes oil and gas exploration. Slocum calls what’s going on “a disaster.”
“His focus on fossil fuel exports – including the explicit promotion of LNG (liquefied natural gas) and his failure to curtail coal exports – threatens to undo the positive elements of the plan.”
He’s moving “full-speed-ahead on fracking.” He ignores controlling “fugitive emission, water contamination,” and related environmental problems.
Keystone XL Pipeline construction awaits State Department approval. Obama heads toward endorsing it.
It’s a controversial 1,661-mile Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, TX initiative.
Environmental groups strongly oppose it. They do so for good reason.
If completed, it’ll carry toxic tar sands oil from Western Canada to refineries on America’s Gulf coast. It’ll pass through environmentally sensitive areas.
They’re in six states. They include waterways and the Oballala Aquifer. It’s one of the world’s largest. In America, it supplies about 30% of the nation’s irrigation ground water.
Friends of the Earth says Keystone XL “will carry one of the world’s dirtiest fuels: tar sands oil.” Its route “could devastate ecosystems and pollute water sources, and would jeopardize public health.”
If completed, it’ll double America’s dirty tar sands oil supply. It’ll increase environmental toxicity.
Big Oil wants it. So do Republicans and conservative Democrats. Expect Obama to go along. He always does. His rhetoric belies policy. He’s beholden to monied interests. They own him.
Whatever they want, they get. This time won’t be different. Betting otherwise assures losing.
Slocum calls Keystone XL’s environmental impact study “fatally flawed.” A legitimate one is essential. Doing so requires “tak(ing) into account the true GHG impact of the tar sands.”
It will “require this gas-price boosting project to be rejected.” Slocum said “it would be helpful if” Obama lent support to the 2013 Climate Protection Act. It “places a price on carbon.”
It “send(s) revenues back to families and into investments for a sustainable energy economy.” It regulates fracking. It repeals Big Oil subsidies.
It bears repeating, betting on Obama doing the right thing assures losing. He’s bought and paid for multiple times over.
He’s beholden to powerful interests. He betrays loyal constituents. He does so irresponsibly. He does it every time.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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