Obama May Skirt Congress on Global Climate Deal

With Senate a dead end, he plans pact that needs no ratification: NYT

By Shelley Hazen,  Newser User

Posted Aug 27, 2014 6:36 PM CDT
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(Newser) – President Obama is employing some "legal and political magic" as one expert puts it so he can create an international climate change agreement without Congress, the New York Times reports. This fancy footwork is in preparation for a 2015 UN climate change summit in Paris. Knowing that he has virtually no chance of getting any international treaty ratified by the Senate, Obama's negotiators are working on a "hybrid agreement" that combines the still legally-binding conditions of an existing treaty with new, voluntary pledges. Technically this is an update, not a new agreement—so no ratification required. Think "politically binding" but not "legally binding," explains the Times.

Not surprisingly, the move—reminiscent of Obama's use of executive authority in June to cut coal plant emissions—has peeved Republicans, who already think Obama is abusing his executive authority. Mitch McConnell says Obama's strategy is an example of the administration's "tendency to abide by laws that it likes and to disregard laws it doesn’t like." A State Department spokesperson said today that it's "entirely premature" to pass judgment on any potential climate deal because no such deal has been written yet, reports the Hill. But she seemed to leave some wiggle room in regard to the possible new strategy: “Anything that is eventually negotiated and that should go to the Senate will go to the Senate.”

  (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
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