Guest essay by Eric Worrall
President Obama has announced a climate “pact” with Canada; but this executive action seems likely to once again raise questions about the limits of executive authority.
U.S., Canada Sign Pact to Fight Climate Change
Countries say they will cut methane emissions and try to sign Paris climate deal.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and Canada agreed joint steps on Thursday to fight climate change, including cutting methane emissions from oil and gas operations and signing last year’s Paris climate deal “as soon as feasible.”
The agreement came as Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Barack Obama met at the White House. Methane, which can leak from pipelines and valves, is a powerful greenhouse gas, with up to 80 times the potential of carbon dioxide to trap the planet’s heat.
The agreement can do “even more to protect our countries and our communities, especially in the Arctic, from climate change,” Obama said during a welcoming ceremony for Trudeau.
The countries committed to cutting emissions of methane by 40 to 45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025, to take steps to fight climate change in the Arctic, and to speed development of green technologies.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will begin developing regulations for methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources immediately and “will move as expeditiously as possible to complete this process,” the joint agreement said.
The new agreement, if implemented, is likely to put a substantial dent in America and Canada’s domestic energy production industry, which may cause a rise in energy prices. Gas fracking sometimes releases large amounts of methane, particularly when it goes wrong. Banning the release of methane may amount to a ban on fracking, which would likely reverse much of the competitive advantage which America and Canada have enjoyed in recent years.
Regardless of whether this new commitment breaches the constitutional bounds of presidential power, President Obama can reasonably claim to have a firm political mandate to raise energy prices. Obama openly stated in 2009, that he opposes low energy prices. The President wants energy prices to skyrocket – he believes price rises are necessary, to save the planet from global warming.