Obama Task Force on Climate ‘Resilience’ Gets Icy GOP Welcome

Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) listens during a Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee Hearing on May 14, 2009.
National Journal
Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
Nov. 4, 2013, 4:02 p.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama’s new­est ef­fort to ad­dress cli­mate change mainly calls for plot­ting strategies, but that didn’t stop Re­pub­lic­ans from at­tack­ing it as an es­cal­a­tion of reg­u­lat­ory ac­tions aimed at by­passing Con­gress.

“The pres­id­ent con­tin­ues to go around Con­gress be­cause he knows the Amer­ic­an people don’t sup­port his cli­mate-change policies that threaten eco­nom­ic growth and jobs,” Sen. John Bar­rasso, R-Wyo., told Na­tion­al Journ­al Daily on Monday. “This new ex­ec­ut­ive or­der will ful­fill the pres­id­ent’s ex­treme goal of in­grain­ing cli­mate change in­to the mis­sion of every fed­er­al agency. By put­ting this in place, it’s clear that this ad­min­is­tra­tion wants every de­cision to be done through the lens of cli­mate change.”

The chair­man of the House En­ergy and Com­merce En­ergy and Power Sub­com­mit­tee, Rep. Ed Whit­field, R-Ky., sim­il­arly de­rided the ad­min­is­tra­tion for fail­ing to en­gage mem­bers of Con­gress in im­ple­ment­ing the pres­id­ent’s second-term cli­mate-change agenda.

“Not sur­pris­ingly, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to be less than trans­par­ent on its gov­ern­ment-wide ac­tions on cli­mate change,” Whit­field said. “This is an­oth­er ex­ample of the pat­tern of con­duct by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion where — when they do not get their own way — they simply choose to by­pass Con­gress and the demo­crat­ic pro­cess through their on­go­ing use of ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders.”

The GOP fur­or was over an or­der is­sued by Obama late last week set­ting up a Task Force on Cli­mate Pre­pared­ness and Re­si­li­ence man­aged by 24 state, loc­al, and tri­bal lead­ers. The group will re­com­mend im­prove­ments in fed­er­al dis­aster-re­lief pro­grams and ways to in­crease re­si­li­ence in the face of ex­treme weath­er events.

Eight gov­ernors were ap­poin­ted, in­clud­ing Mar­tin O’Mal­ley of Mary­land and Jerry Brown of Cali­for­nia, and all but one — the Re­pub­lic­an gov­ernor of Guam, Ed­die Calvo — are Demo­crats.

Ac­cord­ing to White House spokes­man Bobby Whithorne, the task force was as­sembled from nom­in­a­tions made by the Na­tion­al Gov­ernors As­so­ci­ation and oth­er or­gan­iz­a­tions as well as self-nom­in­a­tions from in­ter­ested parties.

Most of the loc­al of­fi­cials on the task force are also Demo­crats, in­clud­ing May­or Ral­ph Beck­er of Salt Lake City and Los Angeles May­or Eric Gar­cetti.

Nat­ur­ally, Demo­crats on Cap­it­ol Hill were de­lighted by Obama’s an­nounce­ment.

“With the Re­pub­lic­an-con­trolled Con­gress re­fus­ing to en­act any type of le­gis­la­tion, com­pre­hens­ive or oth­er­wise, that would ad­dress the ser­i­ous im­pacts of cli­mate change, I ap­plaud Pres­id­ent Obama for show­ing lead­er­ship on this crit­ic­al is­sue,” Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., said in a state­ment re­leased by the Bicam­er­al Task Force on Cli­mate Change.

Rep. Peter De­Fazio, D-Ore., a mem­ber of the Safe Cli­mate Caucus in the House, sim­il­arly de­fen­ded the ex­ec­ut­ive or­der. “I am pleased the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is tak­ing steps to help bet­ter pre­pare com­munit­ies to with­stand the im­pact of cli­mate changes,” De­Fazio said. “There can be little doubt that our cli­mate is chan­ging and warm­ing, lead­ing to more fre­quent and severe storms, droughts, wild­fires, and oth­er weath­er-re­lated dis­asters.”

COR­REC­TION: A pre­vi­ous ver­sion of this story in­cor­rectly stated that the in­ter­agency Coun­cil on Cli­mate Pre­pared­ness and Re­si­li­ence was man­aged by a 24-mem­ber task force made up of state, loc­al, and tri­bal lead­ers. The or­der sets up both an in­ter­agency Coun­cil on Cli­mate Pre­pared­ness and Re­si­li­ence chaired by the White House and a State, Loc­al, and Tri­bal Lead­ers Task Force on Cli­mate Pre­pared­ness and Re­si­li­ence. 

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