NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 21, 2008

Liberals pretend that only President Bush is preventing the United States from adopting some global warming "solution," but occasionally their mask slips.  As Barack Obama\'s energy adviser has now made clear, the would-be President intends to blackmail -- or rather, greenmail -- Congress into falling in line with his climate agenda, says the Wall Street Journal.

The complaint has been that the White House blocked Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bureaucrats from making the so-called "endangerment finding" on carbon.  Now it turns out that a President Obama would himself wield such a finding as a political bludgeon.  He plans to issue an ultimatum to Congress: Either impose new taxes and limits on carbon that he finds amenable, or the EPA carbon police will be let loose to ravage the countryside.

These costs would far exceed the burden of a straight carbon tax or cap-and-trade system enacted by Congress, because the Clean Air Act was never written to apply to carbon and other greenhouse gases. Moreover, climate-change politics don't break cleanly along partisan lines:

  • The burden of a carbon clampdown will fall disproportionately on some states over others, especially the 25 interior states that get more than 50 percent of their electricity from coal.
  • Rustbelt manufacturing states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania will get hit hard too.
  • Once President Bush leaves office, the coastal Democrats pushing hardest for a climate change program might find their colleagues splitting off, especially after they vote for a huge tax increase on incomes.

Supposedly global warming is the transcendent challenge of the age, but Obama evidently doesn't believe he'll be able to convince his own party to do something about it without a bureaucratic ultimatum, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "Obama's Carbon Ultimatum," Wall Street Journal, October 20, 2008.

For text:


Browse more articles on Environment Issues