Democrats Arrive at Climate Talks in Paris to ‘Dispel Misconception’ Obama Plan at Risk

Resized globe Paris climate talks

Ten Senate Democrats are arriving at the Paris climate summit with a message to reassure the nearly 200 nations here that Republicans don’t have the votes to kill President Barack Obama’s carbon pollution limits for power plants and other climate policies.

“We want to dispel any misconceptions about the American commitment to follow-through on these issues,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) told Bloomberg BNA in a Dec. 4 interview after his arrival to the United Nations negotiations held in Le Bourget north of central Paris.

“The bottom line is this Clean Power Plan is here to stay as is the transition to clean energy now underway in the United States,” according to Schatz, who arrived at the Le Bourget conference site today.

The senators--led by the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)--will hold a press conference at the UN talks in Paris Saturday. Others are Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Al Franken (Minn.), Tom Udall (N.M.), Chris Coons (Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.).

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), perhaps the leading Senate opponent of Obama’s policies to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, “has not ruled out” coming, an Inhofe spokeswoman told Bloomberg BNA. “But he’s not confirmed,” she said. Inhofe at this point is the lone Republican senator considering a trip to Paris.

One obstacle for Inhofe: he chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and is hoping to have the Senate wrap up a highway bill and be at the ceremony in Washington D.C. to sign the measure into law, his spokeswoman said. Another obstacle for Inhofe’s travel plans: funding will end for federal programs on Dec. 11—the very day the Paris climate talks are scheduled to end—unless Congress reaches a deal to extend spending.

On the House side, Republican lawmakers hope to be in Paris next week to deliver a sort of response to Democrats here. A delegation headed by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), lead Republican on that trip, will put forward his own message that countries should be wary of signing onto an agreement with the U.S., which has pledged to cut its emissions as much as 28 percent over the next decade from 2005 levels.

Several Republican Senate aides also are now arriving in Paris, including aides to Inhofe as well as aides to other GOP members of his environment committee, an aide said.