Trump's decision to kill the Clean Power Plan put Provo before Paris

June 8, 2017

Hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer called it a “traitorous act of war against the American people.”

Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo said people will “lose their lives, homes, and economic opportunities.

And the ACLU said it was “an assault on communities of color across the U.S.”

What on Earth happened that got all of our wealthy liberal elites so upset?

Last Thursday, President Trump announced the federal government would pull out of the supposedly “non-binding” Paris Climate Accord signed by President Obama.

This should not have been a surprise.

Earlier this March, President Trump signed an order rescinding President Obama’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” a 1,560-page regulation that would have rewritten America’s federal energy policy. This massive new regulatory burden — never approved by Congress — was the cornerstone of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Meeting the emissions reduction targets President Obama agreed to in Paris would have been impossible without it.

So as soon as President Trump killed the Clean Power Plan back in March, he also functionally killed the Paris Accord. Both actions, contrary to the lamentations of our liberal elite, are fantastic news for the American people.

According to The New York Times, President Obama’s Clean Power Plan would have “closed hundreds of coal-fired power plants” and “frozen construction of new plants.” Since coal provides approximately 40 percent of America’s electricity, and 75 percent of Utah’s, these new regulations would have raised electricity costs, sending shockwaves through the U.S. economy.

Consumers would have been forced to pay more to cool and heat their homes, leaving less to spend on groceries and mortgages. Businesses would have been forced to raise prices, lower wages or invest less in order to pay their higher power bills. As a result, NERA Economic Consulting estimated that the Clean Power Plan would have cost the U.S. economy over $40 billion annually.

And for what? Even if the Clean Power Plan had been implemented to perfection, climate activists admit it would have lowered global temperatures by just .02 degrees Celsius over the span of one hundred years.

Of course, if you are a billionaire hedge fund manager or a famous Hollywood actor, you probably wouldn’t notice if your power bill went up a couple of hundred dollars a month, or your latte cost an extra $1.

But if you aren’t wealthy and famous, if you are a low- or middle-income American, then the economic costs of the Clean Power Plan would hit a lot closer to home.

This is exactly why President Obama’s push for a carbon regulation scheme failed in Congress in 2010. Faced with an honest debate the American people wisely chose not to gamble with their household budgets for speculative environmental benefits.

After losing fair and square, President Obama abandoned the democratic process and pursued his climate priorities through executive fiat. He twisted the Clean Air Act to enact policies the law was never intended to allow. Then he ran to the international community seeking a blessing of legitimacy that the American people never gave him.

President Obama never submitted his Paris Accord to the United States Senate as the Constitution requires for treaties. Instead he hoped that future presidents would bow to foreign pressure and go along with an international regulatory regime the American people never approved.

The 2016 election was about many things, perhaps none greater than the growing sense among Americans that our political elites were working for themselves and their foreign counterparts instead of for the American people. For all of Donald Trump’s flaws as a candidate, the American people elected him to, as he said, “put America first” again. The American people care — deeply — about our environment, and they are perfectly capable of protecting it, both privately and when necessary through government policy. But those decisions are not for a single politician, and certainly not a committee of foreign dignitaries we never elected, to make.

Agree with his decision or not, President Trump stood up last Thursday for the Constitution and the citizens it protects. And we are all better off that he did.

Op-ed originally published in the Deseret News