Granite State Votes, Clean Power Plan Rocked
The presidential election to succeed President Obama kept rolling last night as New Hampshire held the nation’s first primary for both major parties. The results were profound with both winners commanding victory margins of 20 points or more. But underneath all of the excitement and fervor of the election was potentially more pressing news that the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in a 5-4 ruling decided to stay President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), a major ingredient in his recipe to address climate change. This is a shocking move by the nation’s highest court and a victory for the coalition of 27 states and industry opponents including Big Oil and King Coal. By temporarily freezing the CPP, SCOTUS has sent a signal that they’re listening to opponents of the plan. The news of the stay has HUGE implications for the election, which are discussed below by political party.
The Republican Side
We know that a majority of Republican voters believe that climate change is real and exacerbated by human activities including, but not limited to, burning fossil fuels. Even better news is 54 percent of self-described Conservative Republicans also believe that climate disruption is a major issue. The bad news, however, comes in two forms. First, only 10 percent of Republicans in the same poll supported EPA regulations like the CPP to reduce emissions. Second, all of the remainingRepublican candidates for President have said they will block the CPP.
Donald Trump, winner of the NH Primary and GOP front runner nationwide has referred to climate change as a hoax, and has even stated that it’s a hoax created by the Chinese government. His tweets also indicate that he has, at best, a languorous understanding of global warming. Ohio Governor John Kasich who surged for the silver medal in last night’s contest has suggested that climate change is an important issue, but has not presented a plan to deal with it. His own lack of a plan, however, has not stopped him from criticizing Obama’s CPP and Kasich’s state of Ohio is one of 27 whose lawsuit resulted in the unprecedented SCOTUS stay.
That said, there is encouraging news out of the GOP field as reports have confirmed that both Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Jeb Bush have agreed to meet with 15 mayors from South Florida cities regarding their concerns about climate change. Thanks to the great work of our friends at ClimateTruth, one of the mayors, Cindy Lerner of Pinecrest, Florida, traveled to New Hampshire ahead of the primary to press the importance of the meeting and ask both candidates to acknowledge the reality and dangers of climate change.
The Democratic Side
Sen. Bernie Sanders made history last night by becoming the first American Jew to win a presidential primary. Both Sanders and Sec. Clinton have promised to implement and expand the CPP. But there’s a lot more we need to know about these two candidates’ plans to address climate change: For instance, Sen. Sanders is opposed to many operations and policies that contribute to global warming pollution and opposes offshore drilling, trade deals, and fossil fuel subsidies, while supporting a carbon tax. Sec. Clinton on the other hand, has focussed more on solutions than pollution, announcing goals to install 500 million solar panels and generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America.
But with so far, debate moderators have all-but-ignored the climate question in debates. Leaving voters to compare the two approaches without the benefit of candidates explaining them directly, or responding to each others’ claims and criticism.
CPP Down But Not Out
The stay of the CPP is certainly a setback for the president, his EPA and climate activists nationwide. The effects are already being felt as Governors in multiple states have announced their intention to halt CPP compliance plans. What we know for sure now is that the next President, not Obama, will have the final word. So you can be sure that it will become a major campaign issue and there will be multiple efforts from climate activists to keep the plan alive. Stay tuned for updates.