by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Barack Obama is confident that Republicans will be forced to see things his way when it comes to policies aimed at tackling global warming.
The president told VICE News he can “guarantee you that the Republican Party will have to change its approach to climate change because voters will insist upon it.” It’s just not the case right now, Obama said.
“If you poll folks, they’re concerned about climate change, but they’re even more concerned about gas prices,” he told VICE, an HBO documentary series, adding that Republican lawmakers are putting up stiff resistance to his climate agenda.
“In some cases, though, you have elected officials who are shills for the oil companies or the fossil fuel industry and there’s a lot of money involved,” Obama said. “Typically in Congress, the committees jurisdiction, like the energy committees, are populated by folks from places that pump a lot of oil, pump a lot of gas.”
Calling opponents “shills” apparently has not had the desired effect.
But Obama’s arguments that regulating greenhouse gases is necessary has fallen short. A January CNN poll found that 57 percent of Americans did not see global warming as a threat to their lives.
And the president is right to say that people care more about gasoline prices, but forgets to mention that his policies will cause energy prices to increase. EPA regulations are expected to cause electricity and natural gas prices to rise as coal-fired power plants are closed. Obama administration regulations on hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and methane emissions from oil and gas wells could also impact energy prices.
With most Americans caring little about global warming when gas prices are low, the prospects for people caring more about the climate as gas and other energy prices rise is even less likely. But Obama himself admits that pushing his climate agenda will not be easy.