The Obama administration has vowed to sign a United Nations global warming deal in April despite intense opposition from the Senate and a Supreme Court ruling derailing the government’s green regulatory scheme.
“We’re going to go ahead and sign the agreement this year,” Todd Stern, the U.S.’s climate envoy told reporters Tuesday, brushing aside questions about last week’s Supreme Court ruling against the Environmental Protection Agency’s key climate regulation.
“It is entirely premature, really premature to assume the Clean Power Plan will be struck down but, even if it were, come what may, we are sticking to our plan to sign, to join,” Stern said of the EPA’s rule.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay against the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan — a regulatory scheme that aims to cut power plant carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent by 2030. The court’s decision was seen as a crippling blow to President Barack Obama’s global warming agenda.
The tragic death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, however, has cast a veil of uncertainty over the CPP’s fate. Environmentalists are worried the uncertainty will derail the U.N. global warming deal hashed out in Paris in December.
As part of that deal, the U.S. pledged to cut CO2 emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 — a goal that can’t be met without the CPP. If the CPP is struck down by the courts or repealed by a future Republican president, the U.N. deal could fall apart.
“Justice Scalia’s death unquestionably leaves a large void, but it’s difficult to predict the impact his absence will have on any specific issue, including our challenge of the EPA’s Power Plan,” Curtis Johnson, spokesman for West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Scalia’s successor and the president who ultimately prevails in naming that person remain unknown. In fact, the election of a president may have even greater impact given that person may rescind the Power Plan,” Johnson said.
But the Supreme Court is only part of Obama’s problem. The administration is also moving ahead with a deal that’s opposed by the Republican-controlled Senate.
The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to not call the U.N. Paris deal a treaty so it doesn’t need Senate approval. Bringing the deal before the Senate would almost certainly mean defeat.
Even as Obama himself attended the U.N.’s Paris summit, Congress passed legislation to repeal the CPP.
“It brings me great joy for the Senate to come together in a majority, bipartisan vote to disapprove of this economically disastrous carbon mandate from the administration,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe said of the votes last year.
Stern, however, argues that even Republicans will be hesitant to back out of the U.N. deal once it’s signed in April.
“Paris was seen as such a landmark, hard-fought, hard-won deal that, for the U.S. to turn round and say we will withdraw, that would inevitably give the country a kind of diplomatic black eye that I think a president of any party would be very loath to do,” Stern said.
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