Obama Commits To Tough Push On Global Warming

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WASHINGTON
(AP) — President Barack Obama is planning a major push using executive
powers to tackle the pollution blamed for global warming in an effort to
make good on promises he made at the start of his second term. “We know
we have to do more – and we will do more,” Obama said Wednesday in
Berlin.

Obama's senior energy and climate
adviser, Heather Zichal, said the plan would boost energy efficiency of
appliances and buildings, plus expand renewable energy. She also said
the Environmental Protection Agency was preparing to use its authority
under the Clean Air Act to regulate heat-trapping pollution from
coal-fired power plants.

“The EPA has been working very hard on rules that focus specifically on greenhouse gases from the coal sector,” Zichal said.

Zichal,
speaking at a forum hosted by The New Republic in Washington, said that
none of the proposals would require new funding or action from
Congress. It has shown no appetite for legislation that would put a
price on carbon dioxide after a White House-backed bill to set up a
market-based system died in Obama's first term with Democrats in charge.

The
plan, with details expected to be made public in coming weeks, comes as
Obama has been under increasing pressure from environmental groups and
lawmakers from states harmed by Superstorm Sandy to cut pollution from
existing power plants, the largest source of climate-altering gases.
Several major environmental groups and states have threatened to sue the
administration to force cuts to power plant emissions. And just last
week, former Vice President Al Gore, a prominent climate activist and
fellow Democrat, pointedly called on Obama to go beyond “great words” to
“great actions.”

It was unclear whether the
White House's plans would include controls on existing power plants. An
administration official, who wasn't authorized to comment on the plan by
name, said the White House was still weighing it. But since the
administration has already proposed action on future power plants, the
law would likely compel it to eventually tackle the remaining plants, or
it would be forced to through litigation.

Obama's remarks in Berlin echoed comments he made in his State of the Union and inaugural speeches this year.

“This
is the global threat of our time,” Obama said Wednesday. “And for the
sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global
compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late. That is
our job. That is our task. We have to get to work.”

Some environmentalists who cheered those remarks when they were made months ago, criticized them Wednesday.

“President
Obama deserves praise for including climate change among the long-term
threats facing us all,” said Ned Helme, president of the Center for
Clear Air Policy, an environmentally friendly think tank. “But he should
do more than talk about the problem. The president needs to put the
full force of his office behind new regulations that will truly curb
greenhouse gas emissions. For too long now, he has produced little
action. I'm encouraged that he will finally act and not just ask.”

Meanwhile, the environmental community is growing impatient.

“I
really can't understand why they haven't moved forward on this more
quickly, and we hope that turns around,” said Nathan Wilcox of
Environment America.

An orchestrated and
well-publicized campaign to persuade Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil
pipeline, which would carry oil extracted from tar sands in western
Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, appears to be an uphill
battle.

Opponents call the $7 billion project
a “carbon bomb” that would carry “dirty oil” and exacerbate global
warming. But the State Department in an environmental evaluation
concluded that other means of transporting the oil would be worse from a
climate perspective.


 

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