On a hot and muggy Washington afternoon, President Obama, wiping sweat from his brow, announced that his administration intends to place limits on the greenhouse gas emissions of current and planned power plants and take a variety of other measures to reestablish American leadership in combating global warming while also making the country more resilient to the effects of climate change that are already evident.
The administration’s “Climate Action Plan” relies solely on actions that can be taken without Congressional approval, and in his 47-minute address, the President chided Congress for failing to address the issue through the legislative process.
In laying out the case for taking action on climate change, the President cited recent extreme weather events, including Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 drought and more recent flooding in the MIdwest, as well as the ongoing heat wave in Alaska and Western wildfires. “In a world that is warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet,” Obama said.
He also rejected the view of climate change skeptics who doubt that manmade emissions of greenhouse gases are changing the climate, noting that 97 percent of scientists agree on the science and saying, “We don’t have time for a meeting of the ‘Flat Earth Society.”
“Now, we know that no single weather event is caused solely by climate change. Droughts and fires and floods, they go back to ancient times,” Obama said. “But we also know that in a world that’s warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet. The fact that sea level in New York, in New York Harbor, are now a foot higher than a century ago — that didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it certainly contributed to the destruction that left large parts of our mightiest city dark and underwater.”
During the speech, the president addressed the controversial construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline that would bring Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, where it would be refined and shipped to other countries.
“But I do want to be clear,” Obama said. “Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.”
Climate activists opposed to the pipeline cautiously welcomed the news, while noting that it still leaves the White House with enough “wiggle room” to approve the project.
riends of the Earth, an environmental advocacy organization, released a statement that included this comment about what the president said pertaining to Keystone:
“Finally, in his speech, the president suggested that the administration would not issue a permit for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline if it is shown that the project will significantly exacerbate climate change and harm our national interest. We applaud this commitment by the president. As it is clear that the pipeline will increase net carbon emissions, we look forward to the president rejecting the permit.”
The president said that regulating greenhouse gas emissions from the electric power sector would spur innovation and job growth, but that such a move would be portrayed by political opponents as a “job-killing” measure.
“The president’s plan runs a serious risk of punishing Americans with higher energy bills, fewer jobs, and a weaker economy, while delivering negligible benefits to the environment.”
“The administration must fully, transparently, and continually evaluate the impact of its proposed rules on jobs and the economy — just as the law requires. American consumers, workers, and businesses simply cannot afford another smothering layer of new regulations whose benefits are unproven and whose true costs are hidden.
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- United States Carbon: US states look to cut greenhouse gases (unitedstatescarbon.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s Climate Action Plan: The Methane Problem With ‘Clean’ Natural Gas (washingtonmonthly.com)
- What President Obama’s Climate Action Plan means for international efforts on climate change (blogs.edf.org)