The Obama administration has been concocting a climate change plan for U.N. talks that are scheduled for November, but the plan was met with opposition after it was released on Tuesday. Republican lawmakers warned other nations to be cautious while dealing with Washington because any deals could be revoked.
"Considering that two-thirds of the U.S. federal government hasn't even signed off on the Clean Power Plan and 13 states have already pledged to fight it, our international partners should proceed with caution before entering into a binding, unattainable deal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
The authority of measures like the Clean Power Plan come from national legislation like the Clean Air Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act. However, the administration’s nations climate change initiatives are under attack. Later this month, a federal appeals court will hear arguments from 13 states opposed to regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that have yet to be finalized. The regulations deal with emissions from existing power pants.
Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House official who is now with the German Marshall Fund of the United States, said objections to the EPA’s politics have left other countries skeptical of the U.S.’s ability to follow through on its promises. “By strenuously invoking EPA regulations, the Administration is trying to convince skeptical international audiences that the U.S. can actually deliver on its new climate goals, despite Republican resistance,” he said. “But major capitals are likely to remain nervous.”
Jeff Holmstead, a lawyer representing utilities industries and a former assistant administrator of the EPA, said even if the court upholds the EPA’s regulations on power plants, the decision may not have any staying power. "There are some EPA rules that are very difficult for a new administration to change but this is not one of those rules," he said.