There are plenty of reasons to oppose the cap-and-trade legislation working its way through Congress, but the claim that a “nasty bureaucratic provision” will require “President Obama to act like Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez” is not one of them.
The provision at issue — Section 707 in the bill approved by the Senate Environment Committee — reads as follows:
SEC. 707. PRESIDENTIAL RESPONSE AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Not later than July 1, 2015, and every 4 years thereafter—
(1) the President shall direct relevant Federal agencies to use existing statutory authority to take appropriate actions identified in the reports submitted under sections 705 and 706 and to address any shortfalls identified in such reports; and
(2) in the event that the National Academy of Sciences has concluded, in the most recent report submitted under section 706, that the United States will not achieve the necessary domestic greenhouse gas emission reductions, or that global actions will not maintain safe global average surface temperature and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration thresholds, the President shall submit to Congress a plan identifying domestic and international actions that will achieve necessary additional greenhouse gas reductions, including any recommendations for legislative action.
This provision would clearly require the federal government to step up its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and could well be triggered rather quickly if the bill is passed. It’s also possible, as Senator David Vitter warns, that it could limit the award of carbon reduction offsets and permits under this and other regulatory programs. (See also here.) But “strong man powers”? Please.
The above provision grants no new powers to the federal government, let alone the President. None. Zero. Zilch. Rather, it directs the President to have agencies use “existing statutory authority” to ensure greater greenhouse gas emission reductions. In other words, [...]