An omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government through October 2015 throws up roadblocks for the Obama administration’s climate agenda, namely by blocking taxpayer dollars from going to the United Nations global warming fund.
The House’s $1.1 trillion spending bill will prevent President Obama from fulfilling his pledge to give $3 billion to the UN’s Green Climate Fund. The White House promised to fund the UN’s green ambitions to show its serious about fighting global warming, hoping to spur other countries to action ahead of the next major climate summit in Paris, France in 2015.
Republicans have opposed Obama’s pledge to fund the UN’s climate agenda, saying it was wasteful spending and ignores the results of November’s election where many Democrats were defeated at the polls.
“President Obama’s pledge to give unelected bureaucrats at the U.N. $3 billion for climate change initiatives is an unfortunate decision to not listen to voters in this most recent election cycle,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe said in a statement.
“His climate change spending priorities, estimated to be $120 billion since the beginning of his Administration, were on the ballot, and Americans spoke,” said Inhofe, who is set to chair the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next Congress. “The President’s climate change agenda has only siphoned precious taxpayer dollars away from the real problems facing the American people.”
Obama made his pledge after coming to a tentative agreement with China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The president promised to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 and China promised to peak emissions by 2030.
So far, the UN’s Green Climate Fund had met its goal of $10 billion in pledges from rich countries, with the biggest pledges coming from the U.S. ($3 billion) and Japan ($1.5 billion). The House spending bill, however, could prevent the Green Climate Fund from meeting its goal.
The bill has been contested by environmental groups, who oppose blocking climate funding and provisions in the bill that prevent other environmental programs from going forward.
“This bill is clear evidence – if more were needed – of the Republican leadership’s polluter-funded goal of rolling back protections for air, climate, water and wildlife,” said Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“Thankfully, the White House and Congressional Democrats were able to keep the worst items out of the bill and to dilute many of those that made it in,” Slesinger said. “This bill is just a preview of the broader battle next year.”
For example, House Republicans have also inserted language into the omnibus bill that prevents to the Energy Department from moving ahead with its incandescent light bulb ban by barring funding for efficiency standards.
Lawmakers also included a provision in the bill to stop the Interior Department from working on its proposal to list the greater sage grouse and the Gunnison sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act. If the greater and Gunnison sage grouse are listing under the ESA could stymie drilling and mining activity on wide swaths of land throughout the western U.S., harming the economic livelihoods of people living in those areas.
“States like Wyoming are already leading the way when it comes to protecting species on the ground—including the sage grouse. The last thing states need are more one-size-fits-all regulations from Washington that won’t help species and will devastate local economies,” said Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican.
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