We Don’ Need No Stinkin’ Treaty!


At Heartland’s International Climate Change Conference in New York this week, I gave a talk addressing the argument made by Brookings’s Nigel Purvis that, when it comes to roping the U.S. into Kyoto’s successor, we need to recognize that “The United States should classify new international treaties to protect the Earth’s climate system as executive agreements rather than treaties,” because “The treaty clause has never worked as the framers of the Constitution intended.”


By that he means, upon clarification, that “The treaty process created by the framers of the Constitution requires an exceptional degree of national consensus that is no longer reasonable given the frequency and importance of international cooperation today,” meaning that which was intended to keep us from doing something too promiscuously has been overtaken by the practice of doing it too promiscuously and must be thrown overboard.


Kyoto II therefore should just be an executive agreement requiring 50-plus-1 “fast tracking” in both houses of Congress, not two-thirds Senate ratification.


Now, to be accurate and in apology to the tremendous audience which packed the room for our panel, in my haste to pull up the file and remove from it a few slides that I saw being covered by Marc Morano speaking before me, I actually gave a version of my eight-minute CPAC talk the week before — the correct, more in-depth treatment of the issue is the version which will be posted.


This talk tracked a piece I had in the Federalist Society’s Engage in February.


I have had Kyotophiles raise their hands the moment I raise this issue, aah-aah-aah! a la Seinfeld’s Kramer, firmly instructing me that no one is really thinking about such things don’t raise them don’t raise them I don’t hear you, etc.


As that could indicate, this isn’t an issue that they find helpful to raise in advance of whatever’s going to be done.


So it is with interest that I read a paper for Team Soros that the Center for American Progress sent to me titled “A Changing Climate: The Road Ahead for the United States,” making the same points made by Purvis, offering the same prescription and on the same grounds of restoring our credibility and so on.


It’s full of pap about the U.S. having muzzled its scientists, cites John Holdren for propositions of a catastrophically warming world, yadda, yadda — but is most intriguing for this:

The United States’ own ratification process meanwhile presents special challenges. Ratifying a treaty is much tougher than passing domestic legisla­tion, both because the Senate is classically hostile to requirements imposed by outside bodies such as the UN and because it requires 67 votes rather than the 51 required for domestic legislation or even the 60 required to break a filibuster. Even if a U.S. domestic cap-and-trade system were enacted, ratifying a treaty could be difficult, especially if the treaty required changes to elements of the domestic system, as it well might.

The obvious solution in the face of such meanies adhering to the Constitution and getting in the way when you’ve got a revolution to carry out is the congressional-executive agreement suggested by Purvis. The authors? “Todd Stern . . . senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a partner at WilmerHale in Washington, D.C. [and] William Antholis . . . managing director of the Brookings Institution.”


Stern is of course the new “climate envoy” for the United States, the apparent voice of reason downplaying the idea of U.S. involvement in some grand Kyoto 2.0 treaty (credit for which apparent realism I give him in a Human Events piece from yesterday).


So it’s unclear which Stern is at work, but at least we do know that he, too, harbors aspirations of finding an end-run around the Constitution’s troublesome two-thirds Senate-approval requirement. It’s pretty clear that this is in fact the Party Line. Maybe it’s OK to talk about it now?


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