On his radio show, Glenn Beck claimed that "in the cap-and-trade legislation that is being proposed, the president has new emergency powers" that would allow him to "take over industries" if greenhouse gas levels reach a certain level, echoing other conservative media outlets that have claimed that the legislation requires the president to declare a "climate emergency" and "act like strong man Hugo Chavez." But the legislation explicitly directs the president to respond within existing statutory authority and to present to Congress any recommendations for legislative action.
Beck, others assert legislation gives president new "powers," requires him to act like "strong man Hugo Chavez"
Beck: "These new emergency powers kick in. And it allows the president to take over industries." On his November 12 radio show, Beck claimed that "in the cap-and-trade legislation that is being proposed, the president has new emergency powers," adding, "These new emergency powers kick in. And it allows the president to take over industries." Beck further claimed, "It's going to happen. It's going to happen. And it's not into the distant future. So you have emergency powers there."
Wash. Examiner: Bills contain "an obscure but nasty bureaucratic provision that requires President Obama to act like Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez." In a "Hot Zone Alert" editorial headlined "Climate bill's 'emergency provision' gives Obama strong-man powers," The Washington Examiner wrote:
Both the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade energy approved earlier this year and the version just okayed by Sen. Barbara Boxer's Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's Democrats (Republicans boycotted the vote) contains [sic] an obscure but nasty bureaucratic provision that requires President Obama to act like Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez.
Here's how: The bills require a federal declaration of a "climate emergency" if world greenhouse gas levels reach 450 parts per million. Guess what? The Pacific Northwest National Lab says it is a virtual certainty that level will be reached within a few months. The bill then requires the president to "direct all Federal agencies to use existing statutory authority to take appropriate actions ... to address shortfalls" in achieving needed greenhouse gas reductions. [Washington Examiner, 11/10/09]
Fox Nation: "Climate Bill 'Emergency Provision' Gives Obama Strongman Powers." On November 12, the front page of Fox News' TheFoxNation.com featured the headline "Climate Bill 'Emergency Provision' Gives Obama Strongman Powers" and linked to a page that excerpted the first paragraph of the Examiner editorial and provided a link to the full article. From The Fox Nation:
Legislation directs president to use "existing statutory authority"
Law professor Adler: "None. Zero. Zilch." Legislation "grants no new powers to the federal government, let alone the President." In a post refuting the Examiner editorial on the law blog The Volokh Conspiracy, Case Western Reserve law professor Jonathan A. Adler quoted the relevant portion of the Senate bill and explained that it would grant the president no additional authority:
The above provision grants no new powers to the federal government, let alone the President. None. Zero. Zilch. Rather, it directs the President to have agencies use "existing statutory authority" to ensure greater greenhouse gas emission reductions. In other words, it requires the President to ensure that agencies are using all the tools Congress has already delegated to them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- tools that such agencies could use even if the section is not triggered -- and demands the President "submit to Congress" a request for additional authorities the President believes are necessary to ensure greater emission reductions. Moreover, insofar as this provision constrains the Executive Branch's discretion over what emission-reduction measures it wants to take, it actually reduces executive authority. [The Volokh Conspiracy, 11/11/09, emphases in original]
House bill also directs the president to operate under "existing statutory authority" and to present Congress with "recommendations for legislative action." The American Clean Energy and Security Act passed by the House of Representatives also directs the president to act under "existing statutory authority" to address any shortfalls in meeting emissions standards and to submit to Congress any plans to address shortfalls including "any recommendations for legislative action."