Inhofe, Markey spar over White House agenda at Copenhagen climate summit

Inhofe, Markey spar over White House agenda at Copenhagen climate summit

Lawmakers at opposite poles of the congressional climate fight on Sunday offered diverging views of President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand Ex-US ambassador: Mueller is the one who is tough on Russia MORE’s right to pledge U.S. emissions cuts at the Copenhagen talks, and whether EPA regulation is inevitable if Congress doesn’t approve climate legislation.

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived House passes deal to end shutdown MORE (R-Okla.) said Obama should not proceed with his plan to offer a provisional U.S. emissions reduction target at the international talks. U.S. officials are floating a domestic cut of 17 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels, mirroring leading Democratic plans on Capitol Hill.

“The president can’t do that,” Inhofe said on “Fox News Sunday.” “The emissions reductions he has talked about are what you would find in Markey’s bill, and that isn’t going to happen. Of course that bill is dead, it will never even be brought up again.”

Inhofe, who calls global warming a “hoax,” debated Rep. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyRegulators seek to remove barriers to electric grid storage Markey, Paul want to know if new rules are helping opioid treatment Oil spill tax on oil companies reinstated as part of budget deal MORE (D-Mass.), who helms the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Markey co-sponsored the sweeping energy and climate bill the House narrowly approved in June.

Markey defended the White House right to offer a provisional U.S. emissions target at the talks, which are aimed at crafting a broad – though preliminary – international accord on climate change.

He cited both EPA plans to regulate under its own authority – enabled by the EPA’s “endangerment finding” earlier this month that greenhouse gases threaten human welfare – along with what he called strong prospects for final congressional action.

“Without question the president does have the authority to make a commitment. Based upon the endangerment finding combined with higher fuel economy standards and other efficiency gains we are going to make including in ... renewable electricity generation,” Markey said.

He cited the collaboration on a cap-and-trade and energy plan between Sens. John KerryJohn Forbes Kerry2020 Dem contenders travel to key primary states When it comes to Colombia, America is in a tough spot 36 people who could challenge Trump in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Pence tours Rio Grande between US and Mexico GOP looks for Plan B after failure of immigration measures MORE (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). He also mentioned Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Tech: Judge blocks AT&T request for DOJ communications | Facebook VP apologizes for tweets about Mueller probe | Tech wants Treasury to fight EU tax proposal Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand FCC to officially rescind net neutrality rules on Thursday MORE (R-Maine), who co-sponsored a separate climate bill with Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats request info on 'repeated environmental concerns' at Ohio pipeline Booker to stop accepting donations from corporate PACs Gillibrand vows to refuse donations from corporate PACs MORE (D-Wash.) on Friday.

“There is real momentum for a bipartisan bill to pass through the Senate,” Markey said.

Democrats in the Senate, where climate legislation is moving slowly, face a struggle to reach the needed 60 votes. Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWATCH: There is no Trump-Russia collusion and the media should stop pushing this The demise of debate in Congress ‘North by Northwest,’ the Carter Page remake MORE (D-Nev.) hopes to bring a bill to the floor in the spring.

Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, countered that climate legislation is “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

Advocates of climate legislation, including Graham and Kerry, say Congress should approve legislation because it can include measures to cushion the effects of emissions cuts on American industries -- tools the EPA does not have at its disposal.

But Inhofe attacked the idea that the EPA’s endangerment finding should prod lawmakers to approve a climate plan.

“What they are trying to do is intimidate Congress into passing something,” Inhofe said.

He said the recent controversy over the state of climate-change science, stemming from now infamous e-mails among scientists hacked from a British research institute, will undercut the EPA’s ability to move ahead.

“This endangerment finding, as soon as it hits the Federal Register, there are going to be people that will be filing lawsuits,” Inhofe said.

But Markey disagreed that the EPA would be blocked from moving ahead.

“It is not a question of legislation or no legislation. It is now a question of legislation or regulation. The EPA can act,” Markey said.

“This is now something which is going to happen, and the only question now is whether or not, as you say, command-and-control of the EPA is going to be the way in which we solve the problem, or legislation that allows us to protect trade-intensive, energy-intensive industries, to protect consumers, is put in place,” Markey said.

The two lawmakers also sparred over the climate science e-mails.

Inhofe and other climate skeptics claim that emails hacked from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia have undermined evidence of human-induced global warming.

Markey said they do nothing to erode what are very widely shared conclusions among climate scientists – he cited the “overwhelming conclusion of scientists in the world that there is dangerous global warming.”

Inhofe, in contrast, said the messages highlight what he calls “cooked science” underlying the conclusions of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.