The White House is about to ramp up the public relations campaign for its regulations to fight global warming. The renewed PR effort comes just one month before the United Nations climate summit in Paris.
How is it doing this? By bringing on Thomas Reynolds, “a top communications strategist at the Environmental Protection Agency and a seasoned political operative, to a new position dedicated solely to messaging Mr. Obama’s global warming agenda,” according to The New York Times.
Reynolds has pushed EPA regulations for the past two years, and before that, “derived from his experience directing regional media operations for Mr. Obama’s 2012 reelection,” the Times reported. Reynolds spearheaded the EPA’s messaging campaign against coal-fired power plants, upping the stakes in the “war on coal.”
Reynolds even headed up the EPA’s recent effort to push the Clean Water Rule. The New York Times previously revealed that Reynold’s PR efforts to push a huge increase the EPA’s control over U.S. waterways tested the limits of federal lobbying laws. The former Obama campaigner even coordinated with environmentalists to push the EPA’s agenda.
In the weeks leading up to the Paris summit, the White House may get even more aggressive in trying to build support for its regulations aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions. President Barack Obama believes the U.S. needs to send signals to the rest of the world that it takes global warming seriously.
Indeed, Obama made a trip to Alaska last month to highlight in an effort to convince Americans that Arctic communities are being harmed by melting ice and rising temperatures from global warming.
“Part of the reason why I wanted to take this trip was to start making it a little more visceral and to highlight for people that this is not a distant problem that we can keep putting off,” Obama told Rolling Stone Magazine. “This is something that we have to tackle right now.”
Before that, the EPA released sweeping regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, a rule that’s expected to put the final nails in the coal industry’s coffin, according to critics. Obama hopes that regulations combined with promises from China to curb emissions in 15 years will convince the world to sign a global climate treaty.
“And I believe that when we get to Paris at the end of this year, we’re now in a position for the first time to have all countries recognize their responsibilities to tackle the problem, and to have a meaningful set of targets as well as the financing required to help poor countries adapt,” Obama said.
“And if we’re able to do that by the end of this year — and I’m cautiously optimistic — then we will at least have put together the framework, the architecture to move in concert over the next decade in a serious way,” he added.
U.N. delegates are expected to sign a successor agreement to the now-defunct Kyoto Protocol that will cut carbon dioxide emissions globally. But past U.N. climate talks have been derailed over disagreements over international wealth transfers and which countries would have to make to biggest emissions cuts.
Republicans have vowed not to approve any U.N. climate treaty, but there are worries that Obama may not even bring the treaty before the U.S. Senate for approval.
In March, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that Republicans who opposed a U.N. global warming treaty were not “in the best position” to even decide if such an agreement was valid.
“Well these are individuals whom, many of whom at least, deny the fact that climate change even exists,” Ernest said. “So I’m not sure they would be in the best position to decide whether or not a climate change agreement is one that is worth entering into.”
Todd Stern, Obama’s global warming envoy, has also said that getting Senate approval of a U.N. treaty “will depend entirely on how the agreement is written.”
“The likelihood, however, is that the Administration will treat the legally binding provisions of the Paris Protocol as a ‘sole executive agreement’ not requiring Senate approval,” wrote Steven Groves, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
“The administration will likely assert that the legally binding parts of the Paris Protocol merely reflect existing [UN] commitments and therefore those provisions of the protocol need not be ‘re-approved’ by the Senate,” Groves wrote.
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