Back in June I published an article on a group called the Center for Biological Diversity This group met with Joe Biden in December 2020, just weeks before his administration took office, and gave him a list of “THE 10 ESSENTIAL STEPS PRESIDENT BIDEN MUST TAKE ON CLIMATE”.
Biden has taken 9 out of the 10 steps on that list and is likely to take the final step by early 2023 at the latest and that is declaring a national emergency to fight climate change.
This is possibly coming before the midterms but it’s probably more likely that it will come shortly after the new congress takes over in January so that Biden could blame it on the Republicans refusing to act on fighting climate change and then claim that he has no choice but to declare a national emergency.
So what exactly would a “climate emergency” do?
In 2019, Environmental and constitutional law scholar at University of California, Berkeley, Dan Farber, published an op-ed where he discussed the possibility of declaring a national emergency on climate change and how that would work. He discussed what powers that would give the President over things like energy production.
The first half of the article discusses Trump’s emergency at the border and that the next President should use that as justification to declare a climate emergency, which would give the President significantly expanded authority to address and fight climate change, and do pretty much anything he wants.
He cites The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law’s list of nearly 150 things that the President can now do in an “emergency”, that wouldn’t require Congress’ approval if an “emergency” is declared. He points out a few key powers that the President would have including
- Oil leases are required to have clauses allowing them to be suspended during national emergencies. (43 USC 1341) If climate change is a national emergency caused by fossil fuels, then suspension seems like a logical response.
- The president has emergency powers to respond to industrial shortfalls in national emergencies. (50 USC 4533). This could be used to support expansion of battery or electrical vehicle production. Another provision allows the president to extend loan guarantees to critical industries during national emergencies. (50 USC 4531). This could be used to support renewable energy more generally.
- The secretary of Transportation has broad power to “coordinate transportation” during national emergencies. (49 U.S.C 114). This might allow various restrictions on automobile and truck use to decrease emissions of greenhouse gases.
- The president may invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to deal with “any unusual and extraordinary threat, which has its source in whole or substantial part outside the United States.” (50 USC 1701-1707). That description certainly applies to climate change. According to the Brennan Center, this Act “confers broad authority to regulate financial and other commercial transactions involving designated entities, including the power to impose sanctions on individuals and countries.” Conceivably, these powers could be deployed against companies or countries trafficking in fossil fuels.
So declaring a national emergency would give the President power to do pretty much anything he wants involving energy, including suspending oil leases, creating a “public private partnership” with the makers of battery and electrical vehicles, put any restriction they want on automobile and truck use to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and increase regulation on fossil fuel production and controlling what “private” companies can produce. The President would have the power to change our energy production and our entire way of life overnight, just by declaring a national emergency.
With powers like this, how far do you think a President would be able to go to do pretty much anything he wants? Does that include putting oil executives in jail? President Biden claimed he would during a campaign rally in December 2019 and then clarified that he wasn’t joking.
If an individual denies “climate change” is the federal government going to pressure big tech (which wouldn’t be very hard considering they are already in agreement) to de-platform you? Can the President shut down a media company for denying that we are in a climate emergency? Are we really comfortable testing to see how far Biden or any future President is willing to go with declaring national emergencies on climate change or any other issue?
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