Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer the successful test of a missile defense system targeting intercontinental ballistic missiles. They also appreciate former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper once again confirming that he saw no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. And they are excited by initial reports that President Trump plans to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, but are confused after Trump himself suggests a decision has not yet been made.
President Trump is running out of time to make good on his promise to withdraw the United States from the Paris agreement on climate policy obligations, and the delay is largely due to many different interests imploring him to back away from his campaign pledges.
As Trump embarks on an ambitious eight-day trip to the Middle East and Europe, the pressure is only growing on him to keep the U.S. committed to the Paris deal. However, Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Christopher C. Horner, who served on Trump’s transition landing team at the Environmental Protection Agency, says all Trump needs to do is make good on his word.
“We have to go back to the campaign and remember that a decision was made and it was to get out,” said Horner. “He gave reasons why. He said this would give others control over our energy use, how much we could use the things that are reliable and affordable, as well as the massive wealth transfer. He made the decision.”
The Competitive Enterprise Institute released an advertisement last month urging Trump to stay true to those campaign promises.
What has changed? Horner says a lot of different interests are pushing him to accept the status quo.
“The brakes were put on it because different influences came into play. There were what I’ll call swamp considerations, which were not obviously considerations in the campaign. In fact, he ran against the swamp. Once he got here, those interests are considerable,” said Horner.
Horner says there is a long list of people and interests looking pressuring Trump to keep the U.S. in the agreement.
“(There are) tremendous business lobbies, tremendous resistance among (the government) holdovers. I could tell you blow by blow about a lot of these officials as well as some Trump appointees. But as you also know, some family members are feeling and exerting what we’ll call Manhattan social pressures to not have to defend keeping this promise,” said Horner.
Some businesses and industries are at the forefront of protesting climate-inspired restrictions, but Horner says much of big business is on board with the climate agenda for multiple reasons. He says a lot of big companies are eager for the federal subsidies that come with compliance with the Paris accords.
“The reason is simple. When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you’re guaranteed Paul’s enthusiastic support and sometimes it was Paul’s idea. So you’ve got this base of industry support, the ones who would benefit,” said Horner.
He says those same businesses also see more restrictive policies as an advantage against the competition.
“They love instituting policies that are barriers to entry to new participants or that smaller competitors can’t handle as well. Some businesses were publicly saying in news reports that, ‘We’ve planned for this so we need this to happen,'” said Horner.
Even among Trump’s top diplomats, there is deep division on the issue.
“The UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is reportedly very strong on this, even though, as I’ve said before, State will do what’s in the State Department’s interest and (withdrawing from the accords) makes Rex Tillerson’s life more difficult and not easier,” said Horner.
Horner also expects Trump’s time in Europe to be one long lobbying effort to keep the U.S. in the agreement.
“The Group of Seven, the leading economic nations who want – as a State Department cable that I found in litigation shows – they want us to share the pain, to relieve the burden of our competition of not having this agenda saddle our economy,” said Horner.
Published reports suggest multiple deadlines to make a decision on U.S. involvement in the accords have come and gone. He says that’s largely because Trump is trying to resist the tide aligned against his instincts.
“We’ve got it on pretty good authority what the president still thinks. He wants out and wonders aloud why he can’t just keep his promise. He’s surrounded by influencers saying, ‘You can’t do it for the following reasons.’ But some people are saying, ‘You have to (withdraw) for these reasons, the same reasons you said you would,” said Horner.
If Trump relents, Horner says President Obama’s promise that our electricity rates will “necessarily skyrocket” will come true and the cost of everything related to energy costs will also shoot up.
“The price will go up, leaving you with less disposable income and a less resilient lifestyle, less healthy because you’re less wealthy. There’ll be more hypothermia, more of seniors and the vulnerable dying from energy poverty. That’s what it’s going to mean for you,” said Horner.
Horner fears that if Trump was going to withdraw the U.S. from the agreement, he would have done so already. However, he is not giving up hope given Trump’s adamant campaign promises.
If Trump doesn’t make good on that vow, Horner says it will be a strong example of how difficult it is to reverse the tides in Washington.
“It means the swamp isn’t as easily defeated as a lot of people hoped,” said Horner. “This is really, so far, the ultimate test of his battle against the swamp.”
A leading critic of the Environmental Protection Agency who served on President Trump’s transition team is very encouraged by the administration approach to the agency in policy and budget, but he says Trump must make good on his promise to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate change agreement.
Trump’s proposed budget made headlines this week, as it called for big cuts in many departments of the federal government. The blueprint calls for a 31 percent reduction in spending at the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Trump plans to spend no more money on climate change projects.
“We’re not spending any more money on that,” said Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”
Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Christopher C. Horner served on Trump’s “landing team” at EPA. He is very encouraged by Trump’s fiscal approach to the EPA.
“It’s a complete departure from anything you might expect from any administration, which is usually, ‘We will just slow the rate of growth,’ no matter what they think if something. That’s sort of the worst thing they would ever consider doing,” said Horner.
He says Trump has no patience for EPA climate change policies that even Obama-era administrator Gina McCarthy admitted were more symbolic than substantive.
“He’s throwing this out the window, saying, ‘We’re trillions in debt. Symbolism is the first thing to go. This is a waste of your money.’ So I think that’s fantastic,” said Horner.
Horner says the trimming will allow the EPA do the job it’s supposed to do rather than burdening Americans with bureaucratic rules.
“They have statutory mandates. They have statutory deadlines. They’ve never met one they liked, but they go off on these very expensive, very harmful hobbies and ideological ax-grinding,” said Horner.
“What they’re saying is, ‘You seem to have an awful lot of time and other people’s money to do that. Why don’t you stick to your knitting and focus on actual environmental problems and actual environmental mandates from Congress,'” said Horner.
Horner says it’s not hard to find places to cut at EPA.
“This is an agency that has grown essentially from an executive order to, over time, consuming major parts of the economy, and tax revenues, and our debt. The expansion from the statutory mission is breathtaking,” said Horner.
Horner also says his experiences at EPA while serving on the landing team left him underwhelmed.
“The insistence by people, including those you might imagine, can’t even tell you how many people work there. But they need more money to do their job because the agency is so big. Yet, if you ask them, for example, ‘What is your role in the federal-state partnership, they will tell you it is ‘partnering.’ OK, well that’s a big flag that maybe this is a good place to save some money,” said Horner.
But while Horner is very pleased with the actions Trump is taking thus far at the EPA, he is pleading with the president to formally withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement signed by the Obama administration in its final months.
He says the consequences of not backing out soon will be very real.
“You’re going to see the pain of the sort that was pointed out in the presidential campaign of these policies but worse and worse every year with more and more promises to make it worse every five years,” said Horner.
While the tenets are effectively voluntary, Horner says every five years there will be immense international pressure and public shaming for the U.S. to keep lowering emissions levels and meeting other targets to keep up with the terms of the treaty, which Obama refused to call a treaty so as to dodge rejection of the deal in the U.S. Senate.
But because Obama took that strategic approach, Horner says Trump can exit the deal just as easily.
“For months before the terms were agreed, [the Obama administration] said, ‘I can’t tell you what it is, but I can tell you it’s not a treaty.’ In other words, whatever happens, we’re going to say it’s not a treaty. That is a ‘what are you going to do about it approach.’ If you live by the ‘what are you going to do about it’ approach, then it can also die by it. President Trump promised to cancel the Paris climate treaty,” said Horner.
Horner says the only argument being made against withdrawing is the international blowback that would come for the U.S. But he says the whole point of the treaty is to shame the U.S. for any reluctance to restrict emissions, so staying in the agreement would only make the criticism more intense.
However, despite Trump’s campaign promises, Horner suspects Trump won’t pull out of the agreement.
“I’m encouraged that the issue seems to be open again because I think the wrong answer was reached. So we have time, but I have to tell you I’m not very confident because people very close to the president are pushing for him to break this campaign promise,” said Horner.
He says time is of the essence.
“If President Trump doesn’t get out of this within the next two months, probably six weeks and certainly by the July G-20 meeting in Hamburg, July 7-8, then we’re probably in this forever,” said Horner.
Greg Corombos of Radio America flies solo with Jim Geraghty off at the National Review Institute Ideas Summit. Today, Greg applauds Budget Director Mick Mulvaney for challenging conventional liberal and media wisdom on spending and climate change. He also cringes as Venezuela’s socialist government cracks down on bakeries for making unapproved goods for a starving population. And he reacts to the report in the Cal State Long Beach student newspaper that milk is racist.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are pleased to see the Democrats’ strategy against Jeff Sessions accomplish nothing – and they point out why the strategy was so stupid. They also groan as the Obama administration’s self-congratulations tour continues with Obama giving Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And they react to Sen. Kamala Harris grilling CIA director nominee Mike Pompeo about climate change, while Jim explains the “sure, whatever” strategy he would employ at a confirmation hearing.
President Obama hailed his unilateral ratification of the climate change accords this week and his allies went so far as to say the agreement goes a long way to stopping major storms like Hurricane Matthew, but a leading climate change expert says that’s nonsense.
On Wednesday, President Obama hailed the accords as the “best possible shot to save the one planet we’ve got.” NBC News White House reporter Ron Allen took the significance even further.
“It’s very interesting that this is happening on a day when there is a hurricane bearing down on the United States and in the Caribbean. Because these severe storms, beach erosion, intense weather episodes that we’ve had are perhaps the most practical example of what the president is talking about as the threat that the planet faces,” said Allen.
“This is what this whole climate agreement, signed by 190 nations and ratified by about 60 or so, is designed to stop,” continued Allen.
So is human activity in any way to blame for Hurricane Matthew?
“Absolutely not,” said Dr. Tim Ball, former professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg. He is also the author of “The Deliberate Corruption of Climate Science” and “Human Caused Global Warming: The Biggest Deception in History.”
“By the way, Hurricane Matthew arrived off the coat of Florida on the four thousandth day of no recorded landfall hurricanes in the United States. This is why they had to hype it so much,” said Ball.
Ball says it’s not hard to refute the supposed scientific consensus on the impact of human activity on our climate. He says they’ve been wrong all along.
“If you look at the forecasts of the [United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] since 1990, every single one of them has been wrong,” said Ball. “The basics of science is that if your prediction or forecast is wrong, you’re science is wrong, But they’re not admitting that. They’re pushing ahead anyway.”
He says those trying to get the public on board with the climate agenda don’t even have the basics of climate science correct.
“From a science point of view, it’s an absolute disaster and completely unnecessary. CO2 is less than four percent of the total greenhouse gases and the human contribution of that is .04 percent. Yet they completely ignore water vapor, which is 95 percent of the greenhouse effect,” said Ball.
Ball also has a problem with some of the data presented about Matthew and other storms. He asserts that the experts consistently over-estimate the power of hurricanes.
“They determine the wind speed of the hurricane over water because they have no surface wind speed measurements. They determine it by flying an aircraft through at 30,000 feet. It gets a wind speed up there and then, using a computer model, it calculates the wind speed at the surface,” explained Ball.
“In every single case, that has been wrong. It happened with Katrina. They said it was a Category Five and it was actually barely a Category Three by the time it got ashore. The same thing is happening with Matthew,” said Ball.
Ball is also pouring cold water on the celebration of the climate accords. He says it’s not nearly the global consensus that Obama would have us believe.
“It is, of course, a non-binding treaty and that was demanded by countries like China and Russia, who said, ‘We’re not going to tie our hands with this.’ And of course China has gone ahead with building two coal-burning plants every five days. It’s just laughable,” said Ball.
He says the whole point of the Paris accords was not to line up commitments to reduce carbon emissions but to establish the Green Climate Fund, an idea that has been pursued by climate activists since the Kyoto Accords in the 1990s.
And what is the Green Climate Fund?
“The developed nations had to pay for their sins according to the amount of CO2 they were producing. Then the money was going to be given over to the developing nations because they were suffering from the sins of the developed nations,” said Ball. “It was just a great wealth transfer.”
Ball says it’s important to note that less than a third of the nations that signed the accords have actually ratified it. He also says the nations of the world are expected to contribute $100 billion to the fund every year, but so far it has less than five billion dollars.
In his Wednesday statement, Obama admitted the accords would not solve climate issues but would be a good start.
“The Paris agreement alone will not solve the climate crisis. Even if we meet every target embodied in the agreement, we’ll only get to part of where we need to go,” said Obama, while saying the deal would help to delay or avoid looming problems.
Ball fears the next steps will only involve more government or even United Nations demands on the American taxpayer. He also says many climate activists admit all this action won’t accomplish anything with respect to the climate, which was also the case with the highly trumpeted Kyoto Accords years ago.
“Even if [Kyoto] was implemented in its full form, even the scientists were saying it will not be a measurable difference. The Paris climate agreement is even worse,” he said.
“It’s a travesty from the start. It was the use of science for a political agenda and it’s properly collapsing around its ears,” said Ball.