Several Democratic lawmakers are urging President Biden to take drastic steps to combat climate change, even at the cost of exacerbating already skyrocketing gas prices.
Despite a lack of oil supply contributing to that high cost, one such plan would involve declaring a “national climate emergency,” allowing Biden to halt all new oil drilling on federal lands and waters.
Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Jeff Merkley of Oregon want Biden to “invoke a national climate emergency as well as a suite of other moves like regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, formally establishing a dollar estimate of the climate damages caused by fossil fuel projects, and imposing a tax on imports from nations that lack aggressive climate policies,” The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The Biden administration can do more on climate, and with legislative options now closed, the President must act. It’s time for executive Beast Mode.
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) July 20, 2022
The president is considering it, according to his spokeswoman.
“I would not plan a announcement this week on national climate emergency,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a news briefing Tuesday.
“Everything is on the table,” she said. “It’s just not going to be this week on that decision.”
Pressed further, Jean-Pierre said Biden is “going to make some announcements.”
“Today, what I can say: This climate emergency is not going to happen tomorrow,” she said. “But we have — we have — we still have it on the table. And we’ll — I don’t have a circle — a date circled on the calendar.”
Democratic leaders and outlets such as the Times point to the rising prevalence of heat advisories as evidence that climate change is out of control.
Many critics, however, argue that drastically reducing fossil fuel use is not an economically feasible solution to combatting such problems.
In the past year, Biden and Democratic lawmakers have run into several roadblocks on the way to enacting their climate agenda.
For example, with a 50-5o Senate, they need moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to sign off on all legislative agendas.
Last week, Manchin “rejected including any legislation on climate change in a reconciliation bill Democrats want to pass this month,” Fox News reported.
“Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1%,” Manchin spokeswoman Sam Runyon said.
“Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire,” she said.
A recent Supreme Court decision also dealt a serious blow to Biden’s climate agenda. On June 30, the court ruled that the Environment Protection Agency lacked the authority to coerce companies and local authorities into reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Capping carbon dioxide emissions at a level that will force a nationwide transition away from the use of coal to generate electricity may be a sensible ‘solution to the crisis of the day.’ … But it is not plausible that Congress gave EPA the authority to adopt on its own such a regulatory scheme,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.
“A decision of such magnitude and consequence rests with Congress itself, or an agency acting pursuant to a clear delegation from that representative body,” Roberts said.
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