Monday, November 10, 2008

Climate Politics: [President-Elect] "Obama Positioned to Quickly Reverse Bush Actions"

We'll come back to this in a couple months. From the Washington Post:
...The president-elect has said, for example, that he intends to quickly reverse the Bush administration's decision last December to deny California the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles. "Effectively tackling global warming demands bold and innovative solutions, and given the failure of this administration to act, California should be allowed to pioneer," Obama said in January.

California had sought permission from the Environmental Protection Agency to require that greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles be cut by 30 percent between 2009 and 2016, effectively mandating that cars achieve a fuel economy standard of at least 36 miles per gallon within eight years. Seventeen other states had promised to adopt California's rules, representing in total 45 percent of the nation's automobile market. Environmentalists cheered the California initiative because it would stoke innovation that would potentially benefit the entire country.

"An early move by the Obama administration to sign the California waiver would signal the seriousness of intent to reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and build a future for the domestic auto market," said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Before the election, Obama told others that he favors declaring that carbon dioxide emissions are endangering human welfare, following an EPA task force recommendation last December that Bush and his aides shunned in order to protect the utility and auto industries.

Robert Sussman, who was the EPA's deputy administrator during the Clinton administration and is now overseeing EPA transition planning for Obama, wrote a paper last spring strongly recommending such a finding. Others in the campaign have depicted it as an issue on which Obama is keen to show that politics must not interfere with scientific advice.

Some related reforms embraced by Obama's transition advisers would alter procedures for decision-making on climate issues. A book titled "Change for America," being published next week by the Center for American Progress, an influential liberal think tank, will recommend, for example, that Obama rapidly create a National Energy Council to coordinate all policymaking related to global climate change.

The center's influence with Obama is substantial: It was created by former Clinton White House official John D. Podesta, a co-chairman of the transition effort, and much of its staff has been swept into planning for Obama's first 100 days in office.

The National Energy Council would be a counterpart to the White House National Economic Council that Clinton created in a 1993 executive order.

"It would make sure all the oars are rowing in the right direction" and ensure that climate change policy "gets lots of attention inside the White House," said Daniel J. Weiss, a former Sierra Club official and senior fellow with the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The center's new book will also urge Obama to sign an executive order requiring that greenhouse gas emissions be considered whenever the federal government examines the environmental impact of its actions under the existing National Environmental Policy Act. Several key members of Obama's transition team have already embraced the idea....MORE

The last time I looked there have been over thirteen thousand executive orders with most, including some going back to FDR, still in force.

Back in September I left a heads-up at Environmental Capital:

There are a bunch of lawyers in Colorado who have drawn up a plan to go ahead and just use Presidential Executive orders:

Comment by Climateer - September 16, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Here are a couple links from the Daily Camera article:

..."We're defining the playground in which the president can play," said Alaine Ginocchio, lead author of the paper.

Ginocchio said the authority to give an executive order won't necessarily translate into action. With history as a guide, she knows that the philosophy of the president has influenced how many and what kind of executive orders a president will use. But, even if the new president does use executive orders to, for example, enter into international agreements or stop certain kinds of high-carbon fuels from entering the country, that doesn't mean the order will stick.

"A president can't issue an executive order that goes against a statute," Ginocchio said. "Congress can stop you with a veto-proof vote, or Congress can choose not to fund it."

The report is part of a larger project, the Presidential Climate Action Project, which has created "a bold, comprehensive and non-partisan plan for presidential leadership rooted in climate science," according to its Web site,

A link to the CU report can be found at