- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2016

President Obama’s entry into the Paris climate accord met with scorn Tuesday from House Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith, who accused the White House of bypassing Congress in order to advance policies based on “science fiction.”

Mr. Obama ratified the Paris Agreement by executive order at a ceremony Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou, China, an event that he said would be remembered as “the moment we finally decided to save our planet.”

Mr. Smith, on the other hand, called the accord “ineffectual” and “costly,” saying it “puts our nation at an economic disadvantage and imposes unsustainable burdens on American families” while doing little to combat global warming.

“The American people deserve policies based on good science, not an extreme agenda based on science fiction,” Mr. Smith said in a statement.

The president entered into the agreement prior to the start Sunday of the G-20 Summit in China, prompting Mr. Smith to accuse him of attempting to “bury [the] news over the holiday weekend.”

Republicans in Congress have decried the White House’s decision to ratify the deal unilaterally instead of seeking the two-thirds Senate vote required under the Constitution for treaty ratification.

Senate Environment and Public Works chairman James M. Inhofe blasted the administration Friday, predicting the deal would “fail.”

The White House has argued that the non-binding agreement is not a treaty and therefore may be ratified by executive agreement.

Mr. Smith said taxpayers will take a direct hit, citing the president’s pledge to double foreign aid by $400 million annually to assist other countries in reducing emissions without going before Congress.

“By law, the president should have asked Congress to review his agreement. He didn’t, because he knew Congress would not approve it,” Mr. Smith said.

The Paris Agreement, negotiated in December by 195 nations at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, calls for nations to implement policies aimed at limiting the increase in global temperatures to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

The U.S. and China ratification represents a huge step for the agreement, which takes effect only after being ratified by 55 nations accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions.

The two nations account for about 38 percent of emissions. Before Saturday, only 23 countries representing 1 percent of emissions had ratified the deal.

Environmental groups hailed the U.S. and Chinese ratification and urged other nations to follow suit.

“Less than a year after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, under the Chinese presidency, the G-20 has finally moved forward on key issues for tackling climate change. Countries now need to react to the strong call from the G-20 to formally join and ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, so that the agreement can enter into force this year,” said Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International.

The Obama administration has put forward a series of policies focused on reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide, capped by the Clean Power Plan, which was put on hold by the Supreme Court in February pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by multiple states.

Mr. Smith said the regulations could cost up to $176 billion per year in order to reduce global warming by an estimated three-one hundredths of a degree Celsius.

“This deal will raise electric bills, cost jobs and slow economic growth. Why put Americans out of work and our nation at an economic disadvantage for little environmental benefit?” Mr. Smith asked.

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