Reducing carbon emissions is a good idea.
Reducing elected officials' adherence to the U.S. Constitution is not.
But Wednesday's New York Times reported: "The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress."
Advocates of the accord aim to have it signed at a United Nations summit next year in Paris.
And according to the Times, President Barack Obama aims to obligate our nation to that agreement's stipulations despite our Constitution's stipulation that presidents enter into legally binding treaties only with the approval of a two-thirds Senate majority.
The phony pretense for this violation of the checks-and-balances power sharing that has served the U.S. so well for so long:
The White House will contend that it isn't agreeing to a new treaty, but merely "updating" an existing 1992 U.N. climate change treaty with "voluntary pledges," thus precluding the need for Senate ratification.
Yet nations making those pledges of specific carbon-emission cuts would be legally bound to fulfill them - and to provide funding to poorer nations to help them adjust to climate change.
That's not "updating" a treaty that had no binding limits on emissions.
That's creating a new treaty.
And that would continue a series of presidential power grabs that dilute Congress' rightful clout.
In June, the administration, without seeking legislative consent, announced a looming, long-term regulation that would force U.S. coal-fired power plants to reduce carbon emissions. That directly contradicted the will of Congress, which has considered such proposals and rejected them.
You didn't have to like the outcome of that legislative process to respect its authority.
And you don't have to be a climate change skeptic to wonder why we need a national legislature if presidents can consistently override its will with arbitrary executive actions.
The Democratic lawmakers who applaud those moves should consider the risk of a future Republican president citing them as precedents.
President Obama also has played fast and loose on the limits of his office's authority by repeatedly delaying mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Mr. Obama's critics detect political motives behind the president's attempt to become a ruler of one on U.S. climate change policy. After all, this is an election year, and with Democrats at risk of losing Senate control while Republicans solidify their House majority, the president's party needs to energize the environmentalist wing of its base.
Of course, Republicans will try to use this latest controversy to energize their base, too.
Again, however, all Americans, including environmentalists, should be wary about end runs around the Constitution.
Yes, virtually all presidents test the limits of their executive authority.
But President Obama, despite being a former constitutional law professor, will blatantly exceed those limits if he commits our nation to a binding international agreement without two-thirds Senate approval.
And regardless of your views on carbon emissions, that's not a healthy climate for America's time-tested system of self-government.
Notice about comments:
The Post and Courier is pleased to offer readers the enhanced ability to comment on stories. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point.