Turning Up the Heat
WASHINGTON- Appealing for action “before it’s too late,” President Barack Obama launched a major second-term drive Tuesday to combat climate change, bypassing Congress as he sought to set a cornerstone of his legacy.
Obama issued a dire warning at Georgetown University about the environment: Temperatures are rising, sea level is climbing, the Arctic ice is melting and the world is doing far too little to stop it.
“As a president, as a father and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act,” Obama said. “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.”
At the core of Obama’s plan are more controls on new and existing power plants that emit carbon dioxide – heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming. The program also will boost renewable energy production on federal lands, increase efficiency standards and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures. Obama called for the U.S. to be a global leader in the search for solutions.
But Obama’s campaign will face extensive obstacles, including a complicated, lengthy process of implementation and the likelihood that the limits on power plants will be challenged in court. Likewise, the instantaneous political opposition that met his plan made clear the difficulty the president will face in seeking broad support.
“There will be legal challenges. No question about that,” former EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said in an interview. “It’s a program that’s largely executive. He doesn’t need Congress. What that does, of course, is make them (opponents) madder.”
Obama also offered a rare insight into his deliberations on whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, deeming it in America’s interests only if it doesn’t worsen carbon pollution. Obama has faced intense political pressure from supporters and opponents of the 1,200-mile pipeline from Canada to Texas.
Declaring the scientific debate over climate change and its causes obsolete, Obama mocked those who deny that humans are contributing to the warming of the planet.
“We don’t have time for a meeting of the flat-earth society,” Obama said.
Republicans on both sides of the Capitol dubbed Obama’s plan a continuation of his “war on coal” and “war on jobs. The National Association of Manufacturers claimed Obama’s proposals would drive up costs.