Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Judicial Watch, analysis of government documents obtained via a FOIA lawsuit against Homeland Security show that flying President Obama’s party to attend Paris COP21 ran up $2,840,896.80 in air transport bills – bring President Obama’s total travel costs to date to $83 million.
Obama Travel Cost Taxpayers over $83 million to Date
(Washington DC)—Judicial Watch announced today that it has obtained records from the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of the Air Force detailing the costs of Obama’s trip to attend the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference. Secret Service charges for Obama and his staff to attend the Conference cost taxpayers $1,324,171.60. Flight expenses cost $2,840,896.80, bringing the total expenditure for the conference to at least $4,165,068.40. To date, Obama’s known travel expenses total $83,795,502.33.
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for these documents on January 6, 2016. The records were released in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed on May 6, 2016, (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:16-cv-00863)).
“Obama’s Paris junket is another example of wasteful and unnecessary presidential travel that abuses the taxpayers, the military, and the U.S. Secret Service,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
All this for a Presidential signature on a ridiculous document, which has been carefully defined as not being a treaty, to try to avoid the need for ratification by the US Congress or Senate, and therefore has no legal impact whatsoever on the conduct of US affairs.
From the State Department Government Website;
QUESTION: Hey, it’s Chris Frates with CNN. Thank you guys for doing this call. Two questions. It has been said that the emissions were not made legally binding because that would have made this a treaty and it wouldn’t have gotten through the Senate. So I wanted to ask you about that. And then the follow-up question is: Does this need any kind of congressional approval or not?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL ONE: Thanks for the question. So we pursued from the – well, for quite a while. I don’t remember exactly when the proposal that we started to follow was first announced. But New Zealand had the idea of what is, in effect, a hybrid kind of legal form where a number of elements would be legally binding, including essentially the whole accountability system, the requirement to put in targets or ratchet them to be – to report on them and be reviewed on them, and various rules for counting emissions and so forth would be legally binding, but the targets themselves would not be. So that was the basic structure of the – of what I’m referring to as the hybrid that New Zealand put forward.
And we thought that that made sense for reasons of broad participation in this agreement, certainly including the United States but by no means only the United States. There are many countries – the most vocal outside of us probably India – but the reality is there would be many developing countries who would balk at having to do legally binding targets for themselves. They might be perfectly happy to ask for legally binding targets from developed countries, but we were not going to go back into a Kyoto structure of binding target commitments for developed countries but not for developing. We’re past that. That’s the backwards-looking world. It didn’t work. That’s not where we were going. So the notion of the targets not being binding was really a fundamental part of our approach from early on, and obviously something quite useful for us as well.
In terms of congressional approval, this agreement does not require submission to the Senate because of the way it is structured. The targets are not binding; the elements that are binding are consistent with already approved previous agreements. So it would not be – I mean, I don’t want to speak in a definitive way, but it’s certainly not – I would just say that it’s not required. What actions are taken or not taken is a separate question, but it’s not required.