Politics of Poverty

Through the back door

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It’s unfortunate that Sen. Barrasso has chosen to conflate common sense preparedness measures with his political agenda to undermine any action on global warming pollution.

The White House Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force Report contains recommendations to protect businesses, not references to cap and trade.  Graph by Oxfam America.
The White House Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force Report contains recommendations to protect businesses, not references to cap and trade. Graph by Oxfam America.

Yesterday, ClimateWire reported that on Monday Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) continued his campaign, “to stop the Obama administration from incorporating climate change into federal plans and policies.” In a letter to White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley, Barrasso asked, “detailed questions about the White House Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force report and the policies that may stem from it.” In a press statement accompanying his letter, Barrasso called the report part of the Obama administration’s attempt to ‘implement job killing cap and trade policies through backdoor rules and regulations.’”

It’s unfortunate that Sen. Barrasso has chosen to conflate common sense preparedness measures with his political agenda to undermine any action on global warming pollution. The evidence is clear that the U.S. needs to prepare for the dangerous and costly consequences of increasingly extreme and volatile weather that could have enormous impacts on the most vulnerable Americans, as well as businesses large and small.

Nowhere in the report does the topic of cap and trade appear, nor are there any recommendations that could reasonably be described as, “backdoor rules and regulations.” In fact, Oxfam found 24 recommended actions in the task force report that would reinforce the private sector’s ability to manage risk and respond to the impacts of extreme weather. These actions would help to drive economic development and growth across various sectors. The same analysis found zero references to cap and trade or any related policy.

A helpful graph to illustrate these findings is above.

A separate recent report from the University of Wyoming showed that Wyoming’s water resources are highly vulnerable to climate variability and climate change including increasingly severe droughts stating, ‘even the most conservative estimates for regional temperature change would have major consequences for Wyoming’s water resources, particularly as demand – from cities, agriculture, industry, and recreation – continues to grow.’

Regardless of one’s beliefs on the causes of these increasingly extreme weather conditions, ensuring our communities can take the proper steps to protect themselves from the harshest impacts of extreme weather is just common sense. Small farmers and businesses in particular will face some of the gravest threats if we do not pursue a proactive strategy. The Adaptation Task Force report is an important step towards developing the most efficient and effective approaches to help protect communities and businesses of all sizes from costly damages.

Senator Barrasso, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, might also be interested in the Task Force’s practical view that the US should bolster preparedness internationally because of the instability and national security risks posed by water scarcity and severe weather events.

I sure hope that clearing up this discrepancy will transform Senator Barrasso’s interest in the task force’s recommendations into forceful advocacy for climate preparedness that will help ensure the economic future of Wyoming and its citizens.

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