Opinion

GUNASEKARA: Congressional Democrats Seek To Derail Trump’s Regulatory Agenda

REUTERS/Ting Shen

Mandy Gunasekara Contributor

This week, congressional Democrats will use the Congressional Review Act to force a series of votes meant to derail key parts of President Trump’s regulatory agenda. The strategy will no doubt backfire. Where Democrats were scared to take a vote on the fantastical Green New Deal, they are now finding comfort in turning back to the failed climate plans of the Obama administration.

For voters who actually want meaningful environmental policies in place, the Democrats’ latest actions reveal how fundamentally unserious they are about protecting the environment, reducing emissions or improving the health of people on this planet.

This year started off with an environmental bang. The Green New Deal was introduced in early February as the radical new plan to prevent climate change and save us all from ourselves. For anyone who has been tracking international climate work, a quick read of the Green New Deal shows it is nothing more than a culmination of socialist ideas that have long lingered in the halls of the United Nations among the global elite. The only new component is a zealous, home-grown sponsor of these ideas with a taste for controversial tweets and a rush by once serious lawmakers to endorse it.

The Green New Deal is utterly unrealistic. It would have no real impact on global emissions , have an equally insignificant impact on climate indicators like temperature and sea level rise and riddle American taxpayers with a cost burden so great some studies have found that the federal government would have to tax every family making $30,000 a year at a 100 percent rate for 10 years to raise it.

For all these costs, Americans would have a guaranteed government-sponsored job, prohibitively expensive energy that will only be available some of the time and some form of government-determined limitations on driving cars, flying in airplanes and eating meat. When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave Democrats the opportunity to vote on their much-celebrated Green New Deal, they refused to vote yes or no and played it safe by voting “present.”

Turns out the American people are not keen on sacrificing personal liberties, agreeing to exorbitant tax increases, or voluntarily paying more for gas, electricity or general consumer goods. As such, many Democrats are already experiencing buyer’s remorse with the Green New Deal and are desperate to change the direction of their environmental “leadership.” Their new New Deal is to go back to the Obama administration’s failed climate agenda, and their first step is to revive the once-called Clean Power Plan (CPP).

What House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer won’t readily admit is that the CPP ran into problems right out of the gate. The rule was stopped in the tracks Feb. 9, 2016, by the Supreme Court of the United States because of concerns it was not legally adequate. As a result, the pinnacle of the environmentalists’ climate agenda achieved a total of zero emissions reductions.

President Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which Democrats have targeted, is everything the Clean Power Plan was not. The ACE rule is based on a real-world assessment of modern pollution control processes and technology. It is also carefully crafted to strengthen, not overtake, the role of states.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all federal program designed to shut a politically disfavored industry down, the ACE rule allows states to set unique standards that will actually reduce emissions without putting Americans out of work. Most importantly, ACE squarely fits within the well-defined authorities and limits of the Clean Air Act, whereby the EPA is acting as an environmental regulator instead of energy system dictator.

President Trump’s ACE rule will actually reduce emissions while complementing historic economic growth and encouraging innovative technologies that, if adopted in the developing world, could make a tangible difference in the short and long term for both the planet and the people in it. For the voters paying attention, this is what responsible, effective environmental action looks like.

Mandy Gunasekara is the founder of the Energy 45 Fund and a senior fellow for the Texas Public Policy Foundation‘s Life: Powered Project. She previously served as a senior official in President Trump’s EPA and was a former counsel to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.