President Donald Trump is preparing to sign an executive order that will rescind Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have mandated a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses from power plants by 2030. The plan was designed to bring the United States in compliance with the Paris climate accord. It has already been stayed by the United States Supreme Court and has never gone into effect. Had it done so, the coal industry would have primarily been hammered without any prospect that the targets the former president set would be achieved.

For the United States, the Paris climate accord does not have the binding effect of a treaty as it was never submitted to the United States Senate for ratification. No enforcement mechanism exists for the treaty’s targets in any case.

Criticism of the agreement includes the position that what Obama did was illegal under the Constitution because of the circumvention of the Senate’s role in approving treaties. Also, critics point out that the accord does not, strictly speaking, address climate change even by the standards of people who believe it to be a pressing problem.

Adherence to the agreement would tend to stifle Economic Growth and job creation by artificially increasing the price of energy.

The fact that President Trump can so quickly reverse part of the signature legacy of his predecessor with the stroke of a pen reveals the fatal flaw in the way Obama operated in the last months of his presidency. When the Democrats lost the House in 2010 and then the Senate in 2014 in the post-Obamacare political tsunami, Obama lost the ability to enact policy through legislation.

He increasingly resorted to executive orders of dubious legality to push his agenda. He even boasted that he had a pen and a phone and was prepared to use both.

The problem, from the former president’s perspective, is that Trump has a pen and a phone as well and he too is prepared to use them. What Obama has done, Trump is setting about undoing. The former presidency’s legacy has rested on sand, and the winds of political change have shifted it to such an extent that the current president is systematically destroying his predecessor’s achievements, of which fighting climate change is but one.

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