Just months before the 2016 election, President Obama signed the UN Climate Change Treaty. According to the Constitution's Treaty Clause, the United States Senate has the ultimate authority to ratify international treaties. This treaty was never given to Congress for ratification.
The Obama administration worked behind the scenes to implement the treaty's provisions through executive actions. Instead of waiting for Congress to give its consent, the White House implemented regulations that were nearly identical to the requirements within the treaty. Instead of obeying the Constitution to get Congress' consent, the Obama administration funneled $1 billion from a discretionary fund to help the UN implement its treaty.
One tenet of the UN Climate Treaty was a requirement that signatory countries slash emissions. To comply with this requirement, the Obama administration announced the Clean Power Plan, a regulation to require states to slash carbon emissions from power plants. From the beginning, the White House was remarkably transparent. This regulation was designed to bring the United States into compliance with the UN Climate Treaty. Congress never ratified the treaty or approved its emission reduction benchmark, but the Obama administration implemented the restrictions anyway.
President Trump's "Energy Independence" executive order undoes what the current White House describes as "job-killing regulations" in the energy sector.
"I am taking historic steps to lift restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations," Pres. Trump said at the Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters. The statement was delivered on a stage lined with coal miners.
The fact that this regulation will save jobs in the energy industry is definitely worth reporting. But it is also important to note just how unconstitutional the Clean Power Plan was.
The White House never tried to hide what it was doing. They knew that the Senate would not ratify the UN's globalist climate change regulations. It takes a two-thirds vote in the Senate to ratify a treaty and at the time, Democrats controlled just 46 seats. It wasn't going to happen. So, President Obama bypassed the Constitution's Treaty Clause and used executive orders to implement treaty provisions anyway. It is the ultimate example of unconstitutional ends-justify-the-means governance. For a President to conspire to implement these globalist regulations without Congressional approval is at best, criminal, and at worst, treasonous.
The Supreme Court had already put the brakes on Obama's Clean Power Plan. Describing Pres. Trump's executive order as rolling-back the Clean Power Plan is technically correct, but the act of undoing a halted regulation is hardly as catastrophic as many news outlets are presenting it to be.
But what this executive order does is restore balance to the Constitution's separation of powers. It ensures that a President cannot simply take an international treaty that Congress refuses to ratify and implement it by executive fiat.
Today was a victory for the Constitution.