Obama Drops Plan to Limit Global Warming Gases

Daily News Article   —   Posted on November 4, 2010

(by Dina Cappiello, YahooNews.com) AP, WASHINGTON – Environmental groups and industry seem headed for another battle over regulation of greenhouse gases, as President Barack Obama said he will look for ways to control global warming pollution other than Congress placing a ceiling on it.

“Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way,” Obama said at a news conference Wednesday, a day after Democrats lost control of the House. “I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.”

Legislation putting a limit on heat-trapping greenhouse gases [made when coal, oil or gas is burned] and then [requiring] companies to buy and sell pollution permits under that ceiling narrowly passed the House in 2009 as a centerpiece of Obama’s domestic agenda, but it stalled in the Senate.

Republicans dubbed the bill “cap-and-tax” because it would raise energy prices. They then used it as a club in the midterm elections against Democrats who voted for it. Thirty of the bill’s supporters were among some 50 House Democrats whom voters turned out of office Tuesday.

“It’s doubtful that you could get the votes to pass that through the House this year or next year or the year after,” Obama said Wednesday.

The new battle over global warming in Congress will target the Environmental Protection Agency, which is poised to regulate greenhouse gases for the first time, after the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that it could treat heat-trapping gases as pollutants.

John Engler, a former Michigan governor who leads the National Association of Manufacturers, said he expects a Republican-controlled House to take a “fresh look that will get at a lot of questions” dealing with the EPA’s role in regulating greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmentalists, meanwhile, urged Obama to hold his ground. …

The Senate in June rejected by a 53-47 vote a challenge brought by Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski that would have denied the EPA the authority to move ahead with the rules. Six Democrats voted with Republicans to advance the “resolution of disapproval,” which the White House had threatened to veto. A similar resolution has broad support in the House, with 140 co-sponsors.

Engler said efforts to block the EPA will only be strengthened by Tuesday’s election results.

Obama, when asked about the EPA’s authority Wednesday, said that while a court order gave the EPA jurisdiction, the agency still wants help from Congress.

“I don’t think … the desire is to somehow be protective of their powers here,” Obama said.

“One of the things that’s very important for me is not to have us ignore the science, but rather to find ways that we can solve these problems that don’t hurt the economy, that encourage the development of clean energy in this country, that, in fact, may give us opportunities to create entire new industries and create jobs.”

Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

Copyright ©2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. The information contained in this AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Visit news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_obama_greenhouse_gases for the original post.

Questions

NOTE TO STUDENTS: It is important that you understand both sides of the theory of global warming. Read the “Background” below the questions, and then read the article a second time before answering the questions. Actions taken by our government through Congress, or the EPA, will directly affect our standard of living. Enacting a Cap and Trade law would have led to price increases for businesses and the average American. As Heritage analyst Nicolas Loris points out in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “Gasoline prices would rise by 58% (an additional $1.38 per gallon) and average household electric rates would increase by 90% by 2035 if Obama signed the bill into law. The total energy bill for a family of four would be $1,200 higher than it would be without cap and trade in place.” Even liberal think tanks [that believe global warming is real] have been showing that this bill will lead to reductions in income and employment.

*** The article refers to heat trapping gasses. Heat trapping gasses, such as carbon dioxide, are created by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas or when forests are cut down or burned. Water vapor, which occurs naturally, is also a heat trapping gas.

1. Why do Republican lawmakers refer to the “Cap and Trade” bill as a tax?

2. a) President Obama believes that global warming is a real threat. Why did he drop his plan to regulate the amount of greenhouse gases companies could emit through a cap and trade law?
b) What do you think of President Obama’s decision?

3. What ruling did the Supreme Court make in 2007 that will allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gases?

4. How will the results of Tuesday’s elections strengthen efforts to block the EPA’s regulations on greenhouse gases?

5. Ask a parent to read the article and “Background” under the questions and to share his/her opinion on whether a cap and trade law and power for the EPA to enact regulations is good or bad for Americans.


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Background

The opposing viewspoints on global warming are: 

  • The earth’s climate is warming as a result of human actions; an extreme change in the earth’s climate is going to occur, caused by greenhouse gas emitted by the world’s use of fossile fuels (coal, oil, gas).  This temperature change will result in catastrophic problems in the environment. Humans must drastically reduce the consumption of fossile fuels immediately.  To prevent this man-made climate change, countries need to restrict energy use (reduce use of gas and oil).
    Liberals generally hold this view.  Check out two liberal organizations which defend this viewpoint:
    Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace.
  • Human activity does not affect the earth’s temperature.  Burning fossil fuels (gas, coal and oil) does not cause climate change.  The earth’s climate changes naturally, but not so much that it will cause a change of catastrophic proportions.  An extreme change in the earth’s climate will not happen.  There are natural warming and cooling trends over time.  In the 1970’s a coming ice age was predicted, but now that scare has been replaced with the current global warming scare. 
    Conservatives generally hold this view.  Two conservative organizations which support this view are:
    FriendsOfScience.org and Junk Science.
    NOTE: The UN climate conference (of Dec. 2007) met in Bali to discuss global warming met strong opposition from a team of over 100 prominent international scientists, who warned the UN that attempting to control the Earth’s climate was “ultimately futile.” The scientists, many of whom are current and former UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scientists, released an open letter (Dec. 13, 2007) to the UN Secretary-General questioning the scientific basis for climate fears and the UN’s so-called “solutions.”
    Read the complete letter here and the list of scientists who signed the letter here.

Global warming is an important issue to understand.  The theory that man’s use of fossil fuels (burning coal, oil and gas for energy, which produces carbon dioxide, or CO2) is causing an imminent catastrophic change in the climate – global warming – is believed to be true by many scientists, climatologists, citizens, the mainstream media and Hollywood celebrities, and was made popular by former Vice President Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”  People who believe in this theory say we must reduce the amount of carbon dioxide produced by limiting/reducing the amount of fossil fuels we use, or by purchasing offsets.

The belief that man’s activities are not causing an imminent catastrophic change in the climate is held by many other scientists (see MIT’s Professor of Meteorology Dr. Richard Lindzen’s commentary in Newsweek here). This view is very unpopular in the media and widely condemned by those who believe man-made global warming is fact. See Newsweek magazine’s online presentation “The Global Warming Deniers” here.  Those who do not believe man is causing the global temperature to rise don’t believe it is necessary to reduce the production of CO2 by reducing our use of fossil fuels or to purchase carbon offsets.

  • Greenhouse gases are components of the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect. Some greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere [water vapor, which is the most abundant], while others result from human activities such as burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.  Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. (from wikipedia.org)
  • Carbon offsetting  involves paying others to remove or [contain] 100% of the carbon dioxide emitted from the atmosphere – for example by planting trees – or by funding ‘carbon projects’ that should lead to the prevention of future greenhouse gas emissions, or by buying carbon credits to remove (or ‘retire’) them through carbon trading. These practices are often used in parallel, together with energy conservation measures to minimize energy use. (from wikipedia.org)

Resources

Read a commentary on Global Warming at studentnewsdaily.com/commentary/global-warming-update.

Watch a clip from a video “Not Evil, Just Wrong” that refutes Al Gore’s global warming movie “An Inconvenient Truth.”