The Obama administration made its first installment in a $3 billion payment plan to help poor countries limit carbon emissions output, but some are calling the Monday move nothing more than a political ploy.
The $500 million installment to the Green Climate Fund, an arm of the United Nations, is seen as an integral part of President Barack Obama’s commitment to abiding by the agreement forged during the Paris climate summit in December.
Obama granted the payment despite the House’s $1.1 trillion spending bill, signed in December 2014, preventing the president from appropriating taxpayer money to the fund. The omnibus spending bill does, however, gives nearly $400 million to other international funds that could eventually end up being used for the GCF.
“Today, the United States provided a $500m grant to the Green Climate Fund,” a Department of State official said. “This grant is the first step toward meeting the president’s commitment of $3bn to the GCF, and shows that the United States stands squarely behind our international climate commitments.”
Nearly 55 countries, bridging the international spectrum, must sign off on the agreement before it can be formally adopted.
The payment comes as the Obama administration has undergone several notable setbacks to its climate action policies.
The U.S. Supreme Court in February halted Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), which intends on slashing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants 32 percent by 2030.
The SCOTUS ruling, which argues the government must wait to administer the plan until its legality can be determined, threw in jeopardy Obama’s mission to ratchet down carbon emissions.
The news of the Green Climate Fun installment was met with a resounding thud among some energy groups.
“President Obama continues to prioritize his political interests over the interests of the American people,” American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle said in a press statement following Obama’s decision.
“By diverting this money with little to no transparency or clear authorization, the Obama Administration implicitly ignores even more pressing demands, such as help for those grappling with the aftermath of the EPA’s Animas River spill,” he added, referring to a leak the Environmental Protection Agency helped cause in August.
While investigating a small leak at the Gold King mine in Colorado, the EPA inadvertently gouged a hole in the mine’s retaining wall, sending nearly 3 million gallons of contaminated water rushing into the nearby Animas River.
The wastewater — containing various heavy metals and chemicals — spread quickly, clouding the river in a yellow haze from Colorado to the San Juan River in New Mexico and Utah.
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