NEW YORK – Reflecting the Obama administration’s embrace of government policies that enforce a politically charged climate-change agenda, two federal agencies settled a six-year lawsuit, agreeing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars promoting renewable energy standards in energy-poor countries and to establish new carbon emission standards applicable to future development projects the two agencies fund.
The sudden decision by the Obama administration to settle the “global warming” cases marks a dramatic reversal of the Bush administration’s determination to fight the case in federal court. The cases were first filed by a host of environmental groups and four typically activist cities allied with their efforts.
“The settlement represents the Obama administration using a lawsuit filed by its allies as an excuse to impose a desired anti-development practice,” Christopher C. Horner, author of Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmists Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed, told WND.
“Specifically, the U.S. will now refuse to help finance development overseas if the environmental establishment claims that it would contribute to ‘global warming,'” Horner said.
A leading critic on Capitol Hill of “climate-change” advocacy, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., argued “fossil fuel, and particularly coal use, will continue to play a vital role in global energy demand for decades.”
“In this financial climate, I am hopeful that the settlement will also force parties to consider the short-term and long-term cost impacts to American consumers caused by projects that are rejected because of concerns about carbon dioxide emission levels,” Inhofe said in a statement to WND.
The plaintiffs were two environmental groups – Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace – joined by the city of Boulder, Colo., filed in federal court in San Francisco in August 2002.
The case involved oil and natural gas projects the Ex-Im Bank and OPIC funded overseas.
The lawsuit charged that Ex-IM and OPIC had failed to require environmental studies of carbon dioxide emissions under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, which passed Congress in 1969 and was signed into law by President Nixon.
Although NEPA says nothing about “global warming,” environmentalists since the bill was signed into law have termed the legislation the “Magna Carta” of environmental protection. The law has been used to block projects abroad and in the U.S., such as a bridge in Stillwater, Minn., that has been held up for three decades pending the resolution of litigation demanding environmental-impact studies.
Among the projects funded by Ex-Im at the center of the lawsuit were a coal-fired plant in China, a pipeline from Chad to Cameroon, and oil and natural gas projects in Russia, Mexico, Venezuela and Indonesia, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press.
Many of the Export-Import Bank projects at issue are already completed and providing oil and natural gas to the U.S.
The settlement addresses policies moving forward.
Oil and natural gas projects funded by the two agencies from 1990 to 2003 produced cumulative emissions equal to nearly 8 percent of the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, or nearly one-third of U.S. annual emissions in 2003, according to a press release issued by the Environmental News Service.
Under terms of the court settlement reached last week, Ex-Im Bank, which provides financing, including loan guarantees for U.S. companies operating overseas, agreed to develop a greenhouse gas policy and start considering carbon dioxide emission levels when funding any projects that involve “fossil fuels,” meaning oil and natural gas.
OPIC, which supports U.S. investments in emerging countries, agreed under the terms of the settlement to set a goal of reducing by 20 percent the greenhouse gas emissions in the projects it funds over the next 10 years.
Horner said, “In the event such project-specific challenges somehow fail, the settlement even imposes a Kyoto-style mandate of reduction of ‘greenhouse gas emissions’ for OPIC-funded projects, vastly greater even than that called for under the Kyoto Protocol.”
Many environmentalists have charged for decades that computer models project greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide emitted by human activity, are responsible for a rise in global temperatures – although the increase apparently peaked in the 1990s, even as emissions rose faster. The models foresee adverse consequences from the rise in carbon dioxide, including the potential for rises in ocean levels that would threaten coastal cities.
Opponents of man-made global warming theory have argued that observations disprove the “alarmists” models and that there is no scientific consensus, as alleged, proving greenhouse gases from human activity produce adverse climate consequences.
Opponents also have contended that global-warming activism is largely a political agenda that seeks to reduce industrial activity.
The original lawsuit was later joined by three California cities: Santa Monica, Oakland and Arcata. Arguing the case, Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky of the Consumer Protection Unit in Santa Monica contended computer models showed sea levels rising in the Los Angeles area by as much as three inches, threatening the coastline.
“Combine higher tides with extreme weather events, and that will have a greater impact on our local economy,” Radinsky told the Santa Monica Daily Press.