Congress disagrees on climate regulation, so Biden has four different looming threats
President Joe Biden visited the site of a long-shuttered power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts to threaten action on climate change in the next few weeks if Congress doesn’t act.
With inflation at highs not seen in 40 years, largely driven by escalating energy costs made worse by Biden’s own anti-oil and gas policies, Congress won’t act. They won’t act because most lawmakers want to get reelected and with inflation the No. One concern of Americans, only the most ideologically committed Democrats in the safest seats will vote to make gasoline, diesel, and electricity more expensive.
As a result, executive orders and regulations are the only options available to the president as his administration considers the timing of declaring a national climate emergency. Until then, the president announced two partial steps.
First, diverting federal dollars to communities facing hot weather — though the 2017 National Climate Assessment, completed when Biden was vice president, shows that the incidence of heat waves have decreased in the U.S. over the past 100 years. Politically speaking, this measure amounts to nothing more than rewarding your friends with borrowed federal dollars.
Second, removing environmental safeguards and other roadblocks to placing more wind turbines off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. If built, these costly platforms, subject to storm and salt damage, will likely suffer high failure rates while causing harm to vital fisheries and sea life.
But with West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin continuing to express concerns about the sputtering economy and inflation that’s dinging the average family for an added $5,000 a year for gasoline, electricity, and food, the legislative route will remain difficult. It’s simple math: Manchin and 50 Republican senators constitute a majority.
And what might the trust-fund elites who run Biden’s energy and environmental policies impose on the rest of us after a declaration of a national climate emergency? A preview suggests an array of actions, all of which will be eventually found unconstitutional under the “major question” doctrine, that an executive branch agency can only regulate when Congress has clearly given it that authority.
There are at least four looming threats to our economy.
Enlisting the Defense Production Act (DPA) in the climate emergency. Used by former President Donald Trump to boost the production of ventilators and N95 masks, Biden then deployed the DPA for COVID-19 as well and then extended its use to try to get more baby formula to market. If used creatively — and likely illegally — the DPA could be used to force companies to join the “war” on climate change.
The Federal Power Act could be used to divert electricity within the U.S., shifting power from regions that have planned for their needs to states, such as California, that went all-in on periodic renewable power, thus exposing it to an increased frequency of blackouts.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has already launched a draft rule to mandate “climate-related disclosures.” This rule would require all publicly traded companies to catalog their CO2 emissions — including those of all their suppliers, whether public or private. The rule would cost billions in compliance costs, shifting resources from productive to non-productive activities.
Lastly, the Environmental Protection Agency is likely to issue new, lower particulate thresholds. Many of the particulates we breathe are generated naturally — such as by wildfires — or dust from construction and farming. As the use of hydrocarbons became cleaner over time, particulates from powering vehicles and generating electricity have plummeted, improving air quality. This means that additional reductions in particulates would likely entail severe and costly restrictions on existing power plants and cars and trucks.
If Biden does declare a “climate emergency” in the coming weeks, he will be unconstitutionally usurping the power of Congress to pass legislation. The net effect of his power grab will be higher prices, lawsuits, and massive losses for the Democrats in 2022.