(Update: The White House now says President Obama will attend the U.N. climate change conference on Dec. 18, the final day, when most other heads of state are expected to show up.)
(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says it is “dishonest” for President Barack Obama to announce at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen that the United States will cap its carbon emissions because legislation to do so has no chance of passing in Congress.
The White House announced on November 26 that Obama will personally attend the climate summit on December 9 (the date was later changed to December 18). While he's there, the president will announce that the U.S. intends to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2020 to 17 percent below what they were in 2005.
This 17% reduction mirrors the reduction that would be mandated in the United States if the cap-and-trade bill that passed the House by a 219-212 vote on June 26 were enacted into law.
Cap-and-trade legislation has stalled in the Senate, however, and Inhofe told CNSNews.com in a video interview this week that he is certain it will not even get a Senate vote during this Congress.
When asked if he predicted that the cap-and-trade bill would not come up for a Senate vote in this Congress, Inhofe said: “Yes, I do. Absolutely. It cannot come up. It won’t come up.”
Inhofe estimated that at this point carbon-capping legislation may have as few as 28 Senate supporters, while sixty votes are needed in the Senate to end debate on a bill and bring it to a final vote.
“They need 60 votes. They’re not even halfway there. And they know this,” Inhofe said of the Senate advocates of carbon-capping legislation.
In light of this, Inhofe said it is “dishonest” of Obama to go to Copenhagen and tell the world that the U.S. will cap carbon emissions.
“I think it is dishonest for him to go,” Inhofe told CNSNews.com. “I know that’s a strong word. But if he goes, we have seen what he is going to release there. He’s going to say that the United States of America will commit themselves to reducing our CO2 emissions by 17% by the year 2020. Now, that’s essentially the Markey bill--the Waxman-Markley bill that passed--the same targets. And yet he knows when he says that, that we’re not going to pass it.”
The cap-and-trade bill that passed the House in June was sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D.-Calif.) and Rep. Ed Markey (D.-Mass.), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark, from Dec. 7 through Dec. 18. More than 190 nations are expected to participate. The original agenda of the conference was to finalize an international climate-change treaty in which the nations of the world would pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to targeted maximum levels. The hypothesis behind the proposed treaty is that if all the nations of the world curtail carbon emissions it will reduce the chances that the planet will catastrophically overheat as a result of human industry.
Last month, at the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore, leaders of some of the key nations that will be attending the Copenhagen summit decided to postpone finalizing a treaty at Copenhagen and instead seek a “politically binding” agreement that would form the basis for a climate-change treaty that would be finalized next year.
“There was an assessment by the leaders that it is unrealistic to expect a full internationally, legally binding agreement to be negotiated between now and Copenhagen, which starts in 22 days,” White House Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Froman told the New York Times on Nov. 15. The Times reported then that a major obstacle to obtaining a treaty at Copenhagen was the fact that the U.S. Congress had not enacted a bill to cap carbon emissions in this country.
Inhofe said that he has done interviews recently with European media outlets that seem not to understand that Obama cannot cap carbon emissions by U.S. industries without securing legislation from Congress.
“There saying: Well, the president says you are going to do this,” said Inhofe. “They don’t understand that the president has to bring something like that in our government system--this is not a king, this is a president--and he has to bring anything like that to Congress,” said Inhofe.
Here is a partial transcript of Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.)’s appearance on CNSNews.com’s “Online with Terry Jeffrey”:
Terence P. Jeffrey: The House cap and trade bill could not pass the Senate at this point?
Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.): Oh, no. No, no. It wouldn’t even come close.
Jeffrey: How many votes do you think it would get?
Inhofe: Maybe 28, I’m estimating.
Jeffrey: On passage?
Jeffrey: It wouldn’t even need to be filibustered? It simply could not pass.
Inhofe: No, it wouldn’t need to be, but it would be. They need 60 votes. They’re not even halfway there. And they know this. So the only other way--
Jeffrey: So you predict that that bill will not come up for a vote in this Congress?
Inhofe: Yes, I do. Absolutely. It cannot come up. It won’t come up.
Jeffrey: President Obama is going to Copenhagen very shortly to talk about an international treaty to control carbon emissions. Do you think it’s wise for him to go and negotiate something like that when there’s no chance it’s going to pass once--
Inhofe: No, I think it is dishonest for him to go. I know that’s a strong word. But if he goes, we have seen what he is going to release there. He’s going to say that the United States of America will commit themselves to reducing our CO2 emissions by 17% by the year 2020. Now, that’s essentially the Markey bill--the Waxman-Markley bill that passed--the same targets. And yet he knows when he says that that we’re not going to pass it. But here’s the problem--
Jeffrey: He has 60 Democrats in the Senate, he won’t be able to pass that?
Inhofe: Oh no, he can’t get even close
Jeffrey: And he would have to get a treaty to do that, so that would have to be ratified as a treaty?
Inhofe: It would have to be ratified. And what did we say back during the Kyoto? We passed a resolution, 95 to nothing, that said if you come back with a treaty that hurts us economically, or—this is two things, two conditions—or doesn’t treat the developing countries the same as developed countries, we will not ratify it. That’s the reason that Clinton was never able to get Kyoto ratified.
Jeffrey: So, if President Obama knows he can’t get the House cap and trade bill through the Senate. There’s no chance he could ratify a global carbon-cap treaty. Why is he going to go over to Copenhagen and make this--
Inhofe: He’s going to go over to make people think that he can. I have had interviews that would shock you, Terry, from radio stations, and TVs and newspapers in Denmark, and Germany, Spain, all these countries that are going to be participating in this big show. There saying: Well, the president says you are going to do this. They don’t understand that the president has to bring something like that in our government system--this is not a king, this is a president--and he has to bring anything like that to Congress. In fact, it’s not just me talking, a lot of the Democrats, including Democrat Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, he was pretty outraged by this whole idea. He said the idea that he would go there and imply to them that he can do that as president of the United States without bringing it to Congress--and he had some unkind things to say about
So, I think that, this is what I think is happening, Terry, and I kind of hate to--I don’t want to sound extreme here--but the fact that we are not even going to take a bill up, and we had Barbara Boxer and John Kerry and some of these senators saying: We’re going to go over to Copenhagen and we’re going to tell them what we’re going to do: We passed a bill in the House. We passed a bill out of the Senate committee to the floor of the Senate, and imply to them that we are going to pass something--that’s the reason I said I am going to go. And they said: Inhofe will be there, as I was in ’03, as the one-man truth squad.