(Center Square) — The Texas Public Policy Foundation has filed lawsuits against three federal agencies accusing them of failing to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about their involvement in implementing the Biden administration’s climate policies pursuant to the Paris Agreement.
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden accepted the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement on behalf of the United States. He later announced that his administration would set a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) number, and pledged an “economy-wide goal of reducing America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52 percent.”
Former President Donald Trump ended all implementation of the agreement, which was approved by the Obama administration.
When the United States officially rejoined, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was an “unprecedented framework for global action. We know because we helped design it and make it a reality. Its purpose is simple and broad: to help us all avoid catastrophic global warming and build resilience around the world.” The world is facing the effects of climate change that we are already seeing.” He also said that “climate change and science diplomacy” should be part of US foreign policy.
To find out how the administration planned to do this, the TPPF submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the Departments of Commerce, State, and Energy in February and has not received any information it requests.
By not responding within the legal timeframe, the agencies violated the Freedom of Information Act, lawsuits filed by the TPPF allege. The lawsuits were filed separately against each agency on November 16 in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas for the Austin division.
“Setting a Nationally Determined Contribution Number is an ambitious goal, one that will affect all Americans and their livelihoods. Americans have a right to know how government agencies come up with that number and implement other climate goals,” said Robert Hennecke, executive director and general counsel of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Consortium. The government’s failure to respond at all is a common tactic to hide records from public view. We are suing to ensure that those records see the light of day.”
TPPF has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with each agency seeking records about its efforts to support the 2030 NDC emissions target. Separate Freedom of Information Act requests were filed with the US Department of State and US Department of Energy on February 7, 2022, and to the Department of Commerce on February 9, 2022. The only response she said she had received was an acknowledgment that the agencies had received his application.
When Trump pulled out of the United States in 2017, he said the agreement was “simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that harms the United States exclusively for the benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — whom I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of job losses, lower wages, factories closed, and economic output shrank dramatically.”
The non-binding agreement imposed “severe financial and economic burdens” on American companies, which is why Trump said he had ended it. He also ended the US Nationally Determined Contribution and Green Climate Fund, which he said cost an “enormous fortune.”
According to a study by National Economic Research Associates, compliance could cost the US nearly 2.7 million jobs by 2025, including 440,000 in manufacturing. If the United States complies with Obama-era commitments, it estimates that by 2040 there will be drastic cuts in many industries, including 12% less paper production, 23% less cement production, and 38% less iron and steel production,86 % less than coal production, and 31% less than natural gas production.
And the NERA study found that before COVID-related lockdowns led to massive economic losses and before inflation reached sky-high levels, compliance with the agreement was estimated to cost the US economy in 2040 $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million manufacturing jobs. It is estimated that households lose $7,000 per year in income, or worse, not counting inflation losses for 2021 and 2022.
While some groups have refuted the NERA findings, the Foundation for Economic Education said they were “reliable and troubling”; He warned that “more industrial controls across government will cost jobs and productivity”.
However, countries that agreed to comply with the Paris Agreement pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and submit their own Nationally Determined Contributions scheme.
The TPPF brief notes that the administration has pledged that the NDC plan will include a “global economy goal to reduce” net U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. It will also take a “whole-of-government approach” to Federal level, using “levels of government and private sector”. He will also work with the private sector to “lead and implement the Nationally Determined Contributions and create a more equitable, resilient, and carbon-neutral future for the American people.”
Its “whole-of-government approach” included a “bottom-up analysis of current and potential policies and measures at the federal level, taking into account capital stock turnover, technology trends, infrastructure needs, and ongoing subnational policies and measures,” the report said, prompting the TPPF to inquire what on him.
The agencies have not released a statement regarding the lawsuit or why they did not disclose information about their participation in the NDC plan.