Vice President Mike Pence, Vice President Mike Pence and Joe Biden walk to the stage at the 2020 Winter White House Summit on Nov. 5, 2016, in Washington, D.C. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to be the summit’s keynote speaker. EPA/Felipe Dana

Vice President Mike Pence will meet with the key players in the U.S. decision-making process to determine the details of the president’s plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions and get tougher on cleaning up the nation’s air and water.

The White House is devising an ambitious domestic climate change framework, part of a broader campaign to promote business as usual for carbon-emitting industries as well as to undercut attempts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other conservative business groups to strip the administration of its ability to engage with Congress.

What Pence and other administration officials won’t admit is that their plan will leave them with fewer of their goals than their predecessors. But given the likely importance of Trump’s climate ambitions, the political risk and potential for duplications with other members of his administration isn’t as great as it might have been for Barack Obama’s administration.

“In terms of the seriousness, however, and the substantive nature of Trump’s proposals, it’s very difficult to give the administration the top job on climate change with as little change to the current atmosphere as would be desirable,” said Matt Inman, a Washington-based policy adviser with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Future Advice

Key to dealing with the potential ambiguity is whether the administration will be able to advise Congress on the plan as the committee decides how to develop it. The second page of the fiscal 2019 budget, for example, includes language restricting cooperation with Congress if the administration disagrees with it over a congressional issue.

“Having the Vice President, who makes the decisions in terms of what specific policy language should be contained, isn’t necessarily something that we or the Congress want the president to dictate,” said Tony Reardon, director of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions at the University of Tennessee.

Another would-be measure is focused on environmental justice, where developers could use non-renewable energy resources, have a lower standard of construction and have lower emissions. Some specifics like whether climate goals can be reached at existing energy capacity aren’t publicly available.

Easing the Deficit

A lot depends on how the bill fares, Reardon said. He said a portion of his group’s budget will be devoted to dealing with this issue.

The proposed budget seeks $12 billion for cutting the federal budget deficit by using infrastructure projects like highways, bridges and ports and $25 billion for transportation programs.

A lot of corporate support is expected for the idea, given that so many technology companies and energy companies — including Tesla Inc. and Google Inc. — have asked Congress to collaborate on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

“There are, quite frankly, more stakeholder interest groups that are eager to support the plan,” Mark Lynas, a senior vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, said in an interview, declining to be more specific.

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