I fear this is likely to be another Harriet Miers/immigration fiasco. We are hearing some very bad things from reputable sources. One who certainly cannot be dismissed commented that “the last line of defense has been breached” and that “it will be very bad.” No matter how they spin it, any mention of mandatory emissions limits amounts to an invitation to a cap and trade regime at the very least. Once you’ve conceded that, then you have an open invitation not to something weaker, but to something stronger than Lieberman-Warner.
And it’s just crazy to propose something that will raise energy prices when we stand on the brink of a recession! There are food riots all over the world caused partly by the biofuels idiocy (something else the President endorsed in the hopes of winning plaudits that never came from the left) and partly by high energy prices. This can only make that situation worse, and possibly lead to genuine hunger problems in America (as opposed to the “food insecurity” nonsense). Moreover, increasing energy prices hurts red states more than blue states – a fine reward for those who voted for the president in the belief they would thereby avoid Al Gore’s policies.
Moreover, politically this leaves those Republicans and (yes, some) Democrats who have been holding the line in support of the American consumer hanging out to dry. By this — oh so unnecessary — concession, the President will have shifted the political center on energy and environment policy violently to the left. In that respect, this is a political earthquake. And having had this victory over what they regard as their greatest foe, don’t imagine the left will stop there.
As I said, this is just so unnecessary. The President is right that activist litigation has forced his agencies into a regulatory nightmare – and things will only get worse if his own Interior Secretary decides to list the Polar Bear as endangered thanks to climate change. What he should be doing is telling Congress in no uncertain terms that the activists have twisted the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Protection Act to breaking point by their use of them as a vehicle for global warming activism and that therefore Congress should fix those Acts so they can’t be used so inappropriately again. As for emissions, the problem lies with Congress and Congress should debate among itself what to do, without any direction from the President. Siding with those who call for a mandatory emissions target does not help that debate.
If it is so unnecessary, why has he done it? I am inclined to agree with those who suggest it’s in pursuit of a legacy. However, those who have criticized him for so long are unlikely to give him plaudits; rather they will continue to call him a laggard for taking so long and a dullard for failing to understand the science for so long, both of which judgments they will feel he has himself confirmed by this action. Meanwhile, in the real world, increased energy prices will mean the one sure effect of this action is likely to be his genuine legacy — recession.