Friday, May 3, 2019

Is H.R. 9 Good for the U.S.? The Ponder takes a look....

by: Shonda M. Ponder

Washington, D.C. - May 3, 2019 - (The Ponder News) -- On May 2, the House of Representatives voted on H.R. 9, Climate Action Now, a bill that would require the Trump Administration to remain in the Paris Climate Accord, establish new goals to reduce emissions and develop a plan for how the United States will meet these goals to "protect" our environment. This bill calls on the President to develop and make public a serious plan for how the United States will meet commitments to reduce pollution and remain a leader in green technology and the creation of good-paying clean energy jobs. The Paris agreement was unilaterally accepted under President Obama. H.R. 9 prohibits the use of any federal funds to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The Bill passed by a vote of 231 to 190.

Two amendments were accepted into the final bill package. The first amendment offered by Norma Torres (D-CA, 35th) would prevent the President from using this plan to prevent states, like California, that want to set more ambitious goals to address greenhouse gas emissions. The second amendment offered by Adrianno Espaillat (D-NY, 13th) would include in the findings section that the Paris Agreement addresses the importance of climate justice, especially in relation to human rights, where communities of color are disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards and environmental health burdens.

“Texas is a leader in wind energy; we know that we can reduce our emissions and create good-paying jobs in the process,” said Allred. “It's imperative the United States join the rest of the world in addressing the climate crisis. Meeting the conditions of the Paris Agreement will help bolster our clean energy sector by working toward a healthier planet for future generations. It’s time we rise to the occasion and act," said Colin Allred (D-TX, 32).

Jodey Arrington (R-TX, 19th) is no fan of the Paris Climate Accord.

“The Paris Agreement was fundamentally flawed. It would have forced us to spend billions to subsidize the biggest polluters like India and give Russia and China a pass until 2030. Worst of all, it would have cost America hundreds of billions of dollars and millions of jobs, undermining our economic growth and penalizing the American people.

“The Paris Agreement was little more than political window dressing, but its negative effects on our economy would have been real: higher energy costs for our working families and a big wet blanket over our growing economy. Meanwhile, the United States leads the world in reducing carbon emissions – more than China and the EU combined.

“We can and must balance environmental stewardship, economic growth and energy independence if we are to maintain American environmental and economic prosperity. HR 9 would force our President to agree to a bad deal that would achieve none of the above, and I strongly oppose it," Arrington explains.

“The Paris agreement unwisely tied the hands of American economic growth while allowing the world’s largest emitters of pollution to continue unabated until at least 2030,” said Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-MO, 4th) who noted China’s role as the world’s largest polluter, accounting for more than half the planet’s carbon pollutants in 2017. “The Chinese government would love for the United States to adhere to this agreement which could cost the American economy over $250 billion dollars and a loss of 2.7 million jobs within the next ten years,” added Hartzler.

Jim Costa (D-CA, 16th) argues against the statement that jobs will be hurt and not created. He says, "My amendment does just that by helping create a clean energy economy that provides good-paying 21st century jobs for millions of Americans."

John R. Curtis (R-UT, 3rd) argued that, “Twice, I offered a good-faith amendment that would bring transparency to the emissions produced by all countries in the agreement, including foreign heavy polluters like China—both times it was shot down on a partisan basis. I want to ensure our efforts actually improve the environment, avoid damaging our economy, and are based on facts, not politics.”

Curtis's proposed amendment to HR 9 was voted down during the “Foreign Assistance Budget and Policy Priorities” House Foreign Affairs hearing last month. Only 3 Republican amendments were considered compared to the 26 Democrat amendments that were debated.

Rep. Curtis spoke on the House floor to outline his concerns about the costs and effectiveness of the legislation, the potential job losses in rural America, the United States innovation and technological development that have resulted in the US already leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas, and his frustration that China—the earth’s largest greenhouse gas polluter—is shown leniency.

After passing the bill, Don Beyer (D-VA, 8th) and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA, 47th) made a joint statement, in which they said, “The climate crisis is a public health issue. It is an economic issue. It is a national security issue. It is a civil rights issue. We are proud to pass the first bill in a decade to do something about it, and we expect to follow the Climate Action Now Act with further legislation.”

Brendan Boyle (D-PA, 2nd) commented on an amendment to the Bill, saying, "My amendment stands for the American leaderships that was displayed throughout the development of the Paris Agreement under the Obama Administration. The Paris Agreement, for the first time, brought all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. The Agreement chartered a new course in the global climate effort. It essential that we retain our commitment to the Agreement.”

According to Kevin Brady (R-TX, 8th), however, “The potential fallout from the Paris Agreement is devastating – slashing the U.S. economy by $2.5 trillion, costing nearly 400,000 jobs, and drastically increasing electricity costs for the average family. By refusing to allow President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Democrats are stifling domestic innovation and raising the cost of living for hardworking Americans. "

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA, 11th) proposed an amendment that requires the Administration to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to produce a report on the impacts of withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement on U.S. workers and U.S. global economic competitiveness. The amendment was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mo Brooks (R-AL, 5th) was concerned that the bill would hurt America and helps competitor nations. "In particular, the Paris Climate Accord calls for America to give away tens of billions of dollars to other countries.[1] That’s tens of billions of dollars America does not have, has to borrow to get, and cannot afford to pay back.[2] What’s worse, pollution controls are costly," he said continuing with, “Worse yet, the Paris Climate Accord, unfairly holds America to stricter standards than the world’s worst polluters. For example, China and India, two horrific polluters, have no new air pollution control obligations until 2030, at the earliest! Contrast the abysmal environmental record of China and India with that of America! America’s carbon dioxide emissions are being cut. Between 2005 and 2017, America’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by 12.4% on an absolute basis and by 19.9% on a per capita basis![4] America did our pollution control part WITHOUT the Paris Climate Accord!”

Brooks concluded, “Finally, the economics of the Paris Climate Accord increases worldwide pollution by forcing very good pollution control plants in America to close and be replaced by plants in other countries that allow much worse pollution than we would ever allow in America. In sum, the Paris Climate Accord decreases the standard of living for Americans while increasing worldwide pollution levels. That is bad for America and worse for Mother Earth.”

Larry Bucshon (R-IN, 8th) slammed the bill, saying, "Democrats are using climate change as a political tool to strengthen Washington’s control of the economy and consumer choice, without any guarantees of actually reducing emissions, which is why I cannot support this legislation."

Bucshon claims that the bill increases energy prices for ratepayers, and burdens small businesses with regulations while giving a free pass to the world’s largest polluters, such as China, Russia, and India. He stated his solution to the problem by saying, "The right way to tackle climate change policy is by continuing to remove barriers to innovation, incentivizing more clean energy, and putting forth realistic, free-market solutions driven by the American consumer – a proven approach that has already resulted in significant emissions reductions in the United States.”

President Obama formally accepted the Paris Agreement, under the United Nations climate change treaty, in late August 2016. President Trump announced less than ten months later, in June 2017, that the United States would withdraw—following the terms of the agreement.

The United States is leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, thanks to innovation and technological development, by showing a decline in carbon emissions in 7 of the past 10 years. As stated by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in their Global Energy & CO2 Status Report:

“In the United States, the emission reductions seen in 2017 were reversed, with an increase of 3.1% in CO2 emissions in 2018. Despite this increase, emissions in the United States remain around their 1990 levels, 14% and 800 Mt of CO2 below their peak in 2000. This is the largest absolute decline among all countries since 2000."

The Climate Action Tracker, a European consortium of research organizations, found that the participating nations’ commitments will not meet the temperature goals in the Paris Agreement.

The European Climate Action Network, another think tank, reported last summer that all European Union countries are off target: No single country in Europe is performing sufficiently to meet Paris Agreement goals. And those that have been making the most progress on their promises, did not make large commitments in the first place.

At the same time, we have the United Nations Emissions Gap Report, released in November 2018, which assessed the situation and reported that all these countries will have to at least triple their efforts to meet the Paris Agreement’s basic goals—if not increase their goals five-fold to meet more stringent temperature targets, regardless of the economic impacts.

These facts seem contradictory to the statement that Sean Casten (D-IL, 6th) made of Trump's withdrawel from the accord, saying, "It is economically foolish. It is economically naïve and it cedes leadership to China and others on the defining challenge of our time. That is foolhardy."

“The environment in the United States isn’t getting dramatically worse as those on the other side claim. We are increasing economic growth while simultaneously reducing emissions, a feat accomplished by free-market innovation and technological advances. We shouldn’t tie the hands of American innovators to an accord that puts other nations first and punishes the United States," says Jeff Duncan (R-SC, 3rd).

Adrianno Espaillat (D-NY, 13th) implied that climate change was racist, saying, “Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by climate change, yet are the least responsible for contributing factors and stand to lose the most if we fail to address climate change in ways that present real comprehensive solutions."

Apparently, not all the Republicans felt the same way as Bucshon and Arrington. Kathy Castor (D-FL, 14th) was appreciative of those that voted in favor of the bill, stating, "I’m thankful for the Republican members who embraced bipartisanship today and voted in favor of this bill."

Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming at large) called the bill a "sham", saying the bill would "dictate what people can buy, how they can travel, what they can eat, and how they can make a living."

Passage of the Climate Action Now Act follows the establishment of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which was created on January 9, 2019. The Select Committee is tasked with developing creative, effective solutions to prevent and reverse the climate crisis while providing strong, urgently-needed oversight and investigatory actions.

The bill will now be referred to the Senate.

No comments:

Post a Comment