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Friday, Dec 19, 2014
Tom Jackson Columns

Jackson: Obama’s climate-change order hits home locally

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Because loitering is a luxury when you’re nearly five years into an eight-year plan for “fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” the Obama White House stays busy, especially on Fridays when, presumably, our attention is focused elsewhere.

Our capacity for distraction was especially high just over a week ago when Friday fell on the day after Halloween — National Sugar Buzz Day — which may explain the timing of President Obama’s latest bit of busybody mischief, an executive order that not only commands federal agencies to coordinate with states to formulate “resilience” against major storms and other weather extremes, but also directs state and local governments to get in line.

On the federal end, the president’s mandate would have immediate implications on infrastructure — especially, but not limited to, bridges and flood-control projects. Future structures might be required to be larger, higher or stronger, and existing infrastructure that seems perfectly serviceable might suddenly be designated obsolete.

In both cases, taxpayer outlays would necessarily soar.

***

Part 2 of Obama’s executive command is the organization of a state and local task force whose 26 members will advise the White House how to respond to climate change. You can predict the general nature of those recommendations based on the makeup of the charter panel, drawn almost exclusively from the Democratic Party.

Headliners include governors Jerry Brown (California), Jay Inslee (Washington), Jack Markell (Delaware), Martin O’Malley (Maryland) and Pat Quinn (Illinois), plus mayors Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles), Michael Nutter (Philadelphia) and Annise Parker (Houston).

Notably absent from the roll call are governors of states most likely to be affected by the things climate-change alarmists worry most about: rising seas and catastrophic hurricanes. Perhaps if things work out for the White House in Florida next November, the President will add a chair for that huggable party-switcher, Charlie Crist.

Meanwhile, critics of the order have abundant reasons to fret, but we will leave it to others to dissect how the President’s rule-by-executive-fiat, this centipede of dropping shoes, tramples the balances among the coequal branches of government and, indeed, federalism itself.

Our concerns are closer to home.

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As noted above, this latest directive fairly brims with the potential for mischief-making.

A chief executive who says he’s morally bound to anticipate and mitigate the potential effects of speculative climate shifts is unlikely to be content with dabbling in dams and bridges which, even on the rare occasion they’re shovel-ready, are downright mundane. How much juicier is the opportunity to influence changes in tax-supported structures where public employees interact with civilians?

Now you’re talking.

Are Pasco’s schools climate-change-worthy? How about its courthouses, office buildings and jail? The county seems to be nearing an eight-figure deal with Blue Marble to turn some Wiregrass Ranch pastureland into a baseball/softball paradise. Do they have to add language about climate change now? If so much as a dime of federal grant money can be traced to the site, the prudent answer would be yes.

Meanwhile, Dade City means to erect a new city hall and police headquarters. Having been rejected for federal dollars in the past, the plan just now is to use reserve funds and future Penny for Pasco receipts. Still, City Manager Billy Poe knows there’s federal grant money out there — not without high hopes, the county will pursue $15 million for (presumably climate-change-ready) housing in Lacoochee — and Poe hopes to land some to defray the city’s burden.

Clearly, the town better be ready with a strategy of its own. Hey, maybe city commissioners can hold a workshop.

Whatever happens, know this right now: The moment President Obama says, “If you like your architectural plan, you can keep it, period,” be afraid, be very afraid.

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