Congress’ Christmas Tree Bill Loaded with Climate Ornaments

Americans on both sides of the political aisle—and politicians as divergent as President Trump and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—are justifiably outraged at the $900 billion pork barrel spending bill disguised as COVID-19 “relief” that won congressional approval on Monday.

The president is pushing back, posting video messages that detail the bill’s giveaways to foreign countries and special interests unrelated to easing the devastating economic consequences of shutdowns ordered by Democratic and Republican governors alike. 

There is no end in sight to these punitive, costly decrees, which have done nothing to stop the spread of a virus that cannot be stopped; viruses outsmart humans almost every time and considering the sad crop of human leadership in the world right now, it’s not exactly a high wall for any pathogen to scale.

One group, however, is very pleased with this monstrosity of a bill: environmentalists. “Climate change,” just as it was for his previous boss and BFF, is a top priority in a Joe Biden Administration. Team Biden will work quickly to restore most if not all of Barack Obama’s climate change agenda, a legacy Donald Trump successfully razed.

The presumptive president promises to address the “existential threat” allegedly caused by manmade climate change; he’s regrouping Obama’s climate band, including former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, who used her agency to thwart Congress and almost single-handedly advanced Obama’s extreme climate policies, and former Secretary of State John Kerry. As Biden’s “climate czar,” Kerry, a chief negotiator on the Paris Climate deal, will fulfill Biden’s pledge to re-enter that pact.

Thanks to House Democrats and Senate Republicans, however, Biden is getting a head start on his climate change wish list. 

“In the waning days of the 116th Congress, lawmakers have authorized $35 billion in spending on wind, solar and other clean power sources while curtailing the use of a potent planet-warming chemical used in air-conditioners and refrigerators,” Coral Davenport, the New York Times leading climate reporter, cheered December 22. 

The sop to climate activists, Davenport wrote, is a “rare party rebuke” to President Trump and could signal continued “comity” between Republicans and Democrats to help Biden achieve most of his climate legislative priorities. Under the bill, tax credits for technologies to capture and store carbon, an alleged mitigation strategy promoted by corporate behemoths such as Exxon-Mobil, would be extended. 

The 2005 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, administered by the EPA, also will be extended until 2024 to the tune of $100 million per year.

Lawmakers set a 15-year deadline to drastically reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons because of course HFCs have greatly suffered under the COVID-19 crisis. HFCs is a coolant found in air conditioning and refrigeration systems among other uses; climate activists insist HFCs is a major contributor to global warming. 

“The amendment requires EPA to implement an 85 percent phase down of the production and consumption of HFCs, so they reach approximately 15 percent of their 2011-2013 average annual levels by 2036,” cooed the Sierra Club. “This reduction level aligns with the goal the Obama Administration agreed to in . . . 2016.”

Who needs John Kerry when we have Mitch McConnell?

In fact, the policy was negotiated over the past several months by Republican senators including John Kennedy (R-La.) and John Barasso (R-Wyo.), claiming the reduction in HFCs would protect the environment and create jobs—of course! 

“This historic agreement includes three separate pieces of legislation that will significantly reduce greenhouse gases,” Barasso boasted to the Associated Press after the vote. “Republicans and Democrats are working together to protect the environment through innovation. All three of these measures will protect our air while keeping costs down for the American people.”

Climate change—like immigration, trade agreements, and ongoing U.S. military presence abroad—will be an area of compromise between Senate Republicans and a Biden Administration. The GOP aristocracy, including former secretaries of state James Baker and George Schultz, has been lobbying Republican lawmakers over the past few years to levy a carbon tax. The former Reagan aides are top advisors to the Climate Leadership Council, a bipartisan group of Washington heavy-hitters, Fortune 100 corporations, and climate activists.

Little daylight exists between the CLC and Team Biden; in fact, the CLCs “roadmap” brags about exceeding the chief goal of the Paris Climate Accord, namely a drastic reduction in CO2 emissions by 2035. “General Motors believes in an all electric, zero emissions future,” Baker wrote in the CLC plan. “We believe that climate change is real and that lowering emissions is both a social imperative and an economic opportunity.”

“This country is overdue for a market-based climate solution that works,” according to James Mattis, Trump’s former defense secretary and newest member of the CLC. “An economy-wide carbon fee and dividend plan will compel companies to make strategic operational choices, incentivize investments in new technologies and give money back to the American people.

Right.

Over the past four years, Donald Trump was the only thing standing between climate change profiteers of both parties and Congress. Now that he very likely will exit the White House next month, Republicans aren’t even bothering to wait for Biden before advancing dubious climate policies backed by powerful corporate interests. GOP kingmakers and former Trump officials like Mattis are poised to play ball with Biden’s climate team.

The goodies tucked inside the COVID-19 “relief” bill are just a down payment on future climate compromises. It might not be the Green New Deal, but it’s close enough.

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President. Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. She is the co-host of ‘Happy Hour podcast with Julie and Liz.’ She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and lives in suburban Chicago with her husband and two daughters.

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

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