Debate over the politics of climate change

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 3, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm convinced that no challenge poses a greater threat to our future and future generations than a changing climate. The EPA is setting the first ever nationwide standards to end the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from power plants.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY.: The administration is now trying it impose these deeply regressive regulations, regulations that may be illegal, that won't meaningfully impact the global environment and that are likely to harm middle and lower class Americans the most, all done by executive fiat.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, the president's clean power plan, the White House says it will reduce power plant emissions 32 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. We're back with the panel. A. B., what about this? There is some question whether this is, number one, legal, and number two, can move forward.

A.B. STODDARD, THE HILL: Well, it will be subject to legal challenge. The president is confident after some legal challenges to ObamaCare that sometimes he is right. He obviously is at the end of his term, and everyone, he has made it perfectly clear he is feeling no pain. This is no surprise. It's been a central focus of the remainder of his presidency. And he is willing to take the criticism.

He basically was defiant. He said this is a moral duty. He cited the Pope's encyclical, and he said that the critics who will come after this and try to poke holes in it are the same ones who were against every clean water and clean air regulation passed and that they are always wrong. And he is -- he doesn't care what kind of blowback comes from this.

BAIER: All right, two politicians weighing in on Twitter. Scott Walker, Wisconsin governor, tweeting "Obama's plan should be called 'the costly power plan' because it will cost hard working Americans jobs and raise their energy rates." Hillary Clinton tweeting out "President is right. We can't wait for another generation to tackle climate change. Our future depends on what we do today and in the next decade." Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, we all know it's going to kill jobs. We know it's going to kill coal. And we know it's going to raise the rates for everybody. The only reason you would support this is if it actually is going to do something about climate change. If you do the math on this, our power plants emit five percent of the world's carbon. This is going to reduce it by a third. We are talking about 1.5 percent reduction in the world's production of carbon over 15 years. That's one-tenth of one percent every year, meaning one in one-thousandth. It will have zero effect on the climate.

China is powering up a new plant every 10 days. We are going to close just about all of our existing coal-fired plants and a lot of others. In other words, we are demolishing and dismantling our own industry and shipping it over to China without any effect on the climate. And that's the reason that it is utterly fantastic and it's not going to the have the effect that everybody is promising.

BAIER: Obviously the green movement getting firmly behind this. There are other groups who say that the estimated -- the proposed rule estimates that about $40 billion a year, Steve.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes. I think Charles is right. Most -- even proponents of this will agree that it's going to significantly boost energy costs. And President Obama said that when he first proposed cap and trade. He said it was going to cause energy costs to skyrocket. What will be interesting to me to see is how many other Democrats embrace this, Democrats in the House.
They don't have to do anything, but Democrats in the House and Senate, if they rhetorically embrace this as Hillary Clinton has, I think it's trouble for them down the road.

This is not theoretical. If this goes through, if this actually survives the legal challenges, you are talking about costs that people will see. It's like gas prices rising at the pump. People will feel this. It will have an effect not only on the economy broadly but also on individual pocketbooks. And Democrats, if they embrace it, I think will have to answer for that.

BAIER: So quickly, A. B., for Hillary Clinton who is looking at Obamacare premiums rising for a lot of families, looking at, perhaps, energy costs rising for a lot of families, she embraces both things. Is this a potential problem for her?

STODDARD: We don't know where the premiums are going to be if and when she is a general election nominee in the fall of 2016. We don't know where the economy is going to be which will make support for action on climate change shrink if the economy is in trouble. She has to embrace this because the environmentalists in her party who are frustrated that she won't give an opinion on Keystone pipeline are waiting for her to say something to make them happy, so she is the first to pop out and support it.

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