Thursday, August 22, 2013

Forward on Climate Change--with or without Congress

Last week, Gina McCarthy, President Obama's recently confirmed nominee who is now head of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced that the Obama Administration and the EPA plan to move forward on regulations aimed at preventing climate change with or without Congressional approval.  The urgency, we are told, comes from the fact that the President, "can no longer wait" for Congressional action. 
Beyond just the simple fact that this is yet another example of the expansion of power from the executive branch of government, the Administration's decision to make this "end run" around Congress is important for a couple of reasons:
1. Cap and trade regulations governing carbon emissions have real world consequences for Americans in terms of energy availability and cost.  Although, as usual, the Administration is being deliberately vague about the scope of its plans, we do know that President Obama has clearly called for new standards to be applied to coal plants which will close many existing coal plants across the United States. Since coal produces affordable energy and the coal industry is a major job provider in many affected states, the President's plan will cost American jobs and will raise the price of energy for all Americans. 
2. Climate change legislation is a cash cow for those who are properly positioned. While higher energy prices and job losses hit average Americans hard and take a major toll on the quality of life of regular people, green energy projects and efforts to reduce carbon footprints make the few who are positioned to take advantage of them very rich.  So while an aggressive EPA hurts most Americans, it greatly benefits a small number of elites.
For an example, let's take a look at the last major federal push for legislation to stop climate change. In 2010, a climate change bill which would have provided for such leftist regulations such as a "cap and trade" system for controlling carbon emissions died in the Senate when lawmakers finally realized that their careers were on the line if they passed this bill.  The death of the cap and trade bill killed the Chicago Climate Exchange, a company which had been created for the sole purpose of orchestrating carbon emissions trades and which boasted that it was "North America's only cap and trade system for all greenhouse gases, with global affiliates and projects worldwide."  The Chicago Climate Exchange had been founded as a "voluntary" method of trading "carbon credits" but since few Americans really bought into the idea that they truly needed to buy "carbon credits" the real success of the exchange lay with the expectation that a federal climate change bill would make the purchase of carbon credits mandatory. 
Start-up funds for the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) came from grants from the Joyce Foundation, which Barack Obama served as a board member of from 1994 to 2002--during the period that the start-up grants were issued.  Valerie Jarrett, President Obama's senior adviser, had also served on the board of the Joyce Foundation.
Richard Sandor, the founder of the Chicago Climate Exchange and a former research professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management, which also received funds from the Joyce Foundation, is quoted in the November, 9, 2010 issue of as saying that climate trading and carbon credits could be a $10 trillion industry. In 2002 Time Magazine named Sandor one it's "Heroes of the Planet" in 2007 the magazine named him one the "Heroes of the Environment".  Prior to the collapse of the CCX, Sandor reportedly sold his 16.5% interest in the CCX for $98.5 million--a big payday for a research professor.
The two biggest investors in CCX--Al Gore's Generation Investment Management, and Goldman Sachs--were not so lucky.  The collapse of the climate change legislation meant the loss of all of the potential profits that the investors of CCX had hoped to reap.
A major reason that the Senate could not get the votes together to pass a comprehensive climate change bill is that news began to spread of the cronyism and the powerful political names who stood to profit handsomely financially from the passage of the bill.  The knowledge that the passage of this bill really meant huge payoffs to the rich and powerful soured the American public on the legislation as much as the prospect of increased costs for energy and the reduction in jobs and American wealth.
Now President Obama and the EPA are back at it again--sans Congress this time.   In spite of the fact that virtually everyone agrees that global warming has not occurred in over a decade, proponents of climate change are pushing hard to give the EPA massive power to regulate and micromanage the lives of ordinary Americans at the expense of opportunity, jobs and liberty. The question we should be asking ourselves is, "Why the rush?"  What is so desperately important that the Administration has to push through the climate change policies now, rather than waiting for the 2014 elections to try to regain control of both houses of Congress?  Who benefits this time?
In the coming months, as opponents of Obama's policies challenge his aggressive new environmentalism, much will and should, be made of the real human cost of shutting down coal plants, of stopping fracking and of raising energy prices and rendering thousands more Americans unemployed.  These are unnecessary tragedies of an aggressive environmental policy being unilaterally enforced by one president with his own agenda.  But while we take up the cause of those who are losing their jobs and livelihoods because of the EPA's mandates, and while we are complaining about the skyrocketing costs of energy, we need to make sure that we also look to see who is profiting from the new rules.  Sometimes revealing the winners to the world is just as effective as highlighting the stories of those who are on the losing end of these draconian new rules.  Following the money that is flowing from this new green energy push might be worth more than a thousand sad stories of regular Americans who are suffering because of the EPA.
Understand where climate change policies originate and what they mean to you by watching this short video:

Alexandra Swann is the author of No Regrets: How Homeschooling Earned me a Master's Degree at Age Sixteen and several other books. Her novel, The Planner, about an out of control, environmentally-driven federal government implementing Agenda 21, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at

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