Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump announced the federal government would pull out of the supposedly “non-binding” Paris Climate Accord signed by President Barack Obama.
This should not have been a surprise.
Earlier this March, Trump signed an order rescinding President Barack Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan, a 1,560-page regulation that would have rewritten America’s federal energy policy.
This massive new regulatory burden—never approved by Congress—was the cornerstone of Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Meeting the emissions reduction targets Obama agreed to in Paris would have been impossible without it.
So as soon as Trump killed the Clean Power Plan back in March, he also functionally killed the Paris Accord. Both actions are fantastic news for the American people.
Obama’s Clean Power Plan would have closed hundreds of coal-fired power plants and frozen construction of new plants.
Since coal provides approximately 40 percent of America’s electricity, and 75 percent of Utah’s, these new regulations would have raised electricity costs, sending shockwaves through the U.S. economy.
NERA Economic Consulting estimated that the Clean Power Plan would have cost the U.S. economy over $40 billion annually.
And for what? Even if the Clean Power Plan had been implemented to perfection, climate activists admit it would have lowered global temperatures by just 0.02 degrees Celsius over the span of 100 years.
This is exactly why Obama’s push for a carbon regulation scheme failed in Congress in 2010. Faced with an honest debate, the American people wisely chose not to gamble with their household budgets for speculative environmental benefits.
After losing fair and square, Obama abandoned the democratic process and pursued his climate priorities through executive fiat. He twisted the Clean Air Act to enact policies the law was never intended to allow.
Then he ran to the international community seeking a blessing of legitimacy that the American people never gave him.
Obama never submitted his Paris Accord to the U.S. Senate as the Constitution requires for treaties. Instead, he hoped that future presidents would bow to foreign pressure and go along with an international regulatory regime the American people never approved.
The 2016 election was about many things, perhaps none greater than the growing sense among Americans that our political elites were working for themselves and their foreign counterparts instead of for the American people.
For all of Trump’s flaws as a candidate, the American people elected him to, as he said, “put America first” again.
The American people care—deeply—about our environment, and they are perfectly capable of protecting it, both privately and when necessary through government policy.
But those decisions are not for a single politician, and certainly not a committee of foreign dignitaries we never elected, to make. Agree with his decision or not, Trump stood up last Thursday for the Constitution and the citizens it protects. And we are all better off that he did.
Commentary by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). Originally published at The Daily Signal.