Democrats are mobilizing on Capitol Hill and adding pressure on their own presidential candidates to support a climate deal following the Paris climate summit. But as the fallout from global warming continues to worsen, doubts remain as to whether lawmakers will be able to agree on any concrete plan.
From storm-battered Puerto Rico to the United States Coast Guard telling its crews to scale back rescue missions in the face of the National Weather Service’s warning that the nation will almost certainly reach the 50th anniversary of its first-ever hit by a major hurricane, there is mounting evidence that global warming is playing a major role in these and other concerns.
The environmental fight has been fought in Washington for years and has not produced an effective strategy to limit global warming. The U.S. House repeatedly has failed to approve legislation that would regulate the way the country produces and purchases greenhouse gases. The Senate last took up a measure in 2008. Legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions has stalled in the Senate, too.
The compromise approach to addressing climate change sought by Democrats is expected to be enacted this week as the final version of the Paris climate agreement is ratified by the world’s nations, but that vote took place in November 2017, months before Donald Trump won the election.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) are calling on the president’s opponent in the general election, Elizabeth Warren, to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus in proposing a compromise approach. However, Republican opposition to the climate pact may be too great to pass, especially since a majority of Americans now see global warming as a threat.
“A lot of people, both on the right and on the left, are deeply skeptical,” said Evan Greer, director of the “ThinkProgress” project at Fight for the Future, a pro-environmental group in Washington. “They question whether global warming is real and, if so, whether an agreement like this will really curb emissions.”
The agreement, agreed upon by nearly 200 nations at the 2015 Paris climate summit, is a push for cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions. The countries hope to reduce emissions substantially enough to reduce global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
The White House plans to let the bill become law rather than veto it. Last week, the administration announced it would allow many energy companies to drill without the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval, allowing for the possibility of more rigs in the Gulf of Mexico or more coal-fired power plants.
The chances of getting enough votes from the most conservative Democrats and Republicans to pass the pact in the Senate are slim to none.
On the Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the agreement was “unworthy of ratification.”
“I’m not convinced the pact meets the threshold for Congressional approval and I know many Senate Republicans have serious concerns,” McConnell said.
On the House side, Republicans have tried to block the deal from coming up for a vote before the end of this session.
“If we vote this bill today, it’s game over,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said March 21, prior to the final tally.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who is close to the president, said the administration “could do something” on climate change policy, but added that the efforts would be “a largely symbolic thing.”
Pelosi and Schumer, meanwhile, have launched a program aimed at firming up support for the pact. Two days after Trump’s inauguration, the two leaders announced the formation of the Climate Action Leadership Council, a panel of 14 Democratic representatives, senators and mayors that the two leaders say is committed to advancing climate action.
“By every measure, the Paris climate agreement has been successful,” Pelosi said at the group’s first meeting in February. “Including, and most particularly, that, through its decision, the Trump administration has taken the United States away from the agreement.”
One of the council’s advisory members is former Secretary of State John Kerry, who addressed the group March 28.
“We have it in our hands to enact reasonable policies at a reasonable level that will meet the principle of cooperation,” Kerry said. “It seems important to get on with it.”
The Washington Examiner has reached out to House leadership for comment.
– USA Today
Fox News’ Carl Cameron contributed to this report.