In June, I received a letter from Sen. Jim Risch, responding to my dismay with the president’s dangerous repudiation of the Paris Climate Agreement. The senator wrote that “a principal reason” for the withdrawal — and the only reason his letter mentioned — was that, “Unfortunately, leading environmental attorneys … have said they intended to use the Paris Agreement in conjunction with Obama era regulations to force the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas under the Clean Air Act, even though the Clean Air Act was never intended to create this possibility. This legal liability is a principal reason for U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.” However, the senator surely knows that the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gases was recognized in 2007 and 2014 by the U.S. Supreme Court. Second, the Paris Agreement is not a treaty with the force of law; missing its emission targets cannot impose any “legal liability” on any signatory. Finally, I was dismayed to learn that Senator Risch believes that a globally important decision can be justified by politicians’ fear of what “leading environmental attorneys … said” they might do. Regrettably, I found the senator’s letter as ill-informed as the decision it sought to justify.
Mark S. Geston, Boise