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, expand
renewable energy and use the Environmental Protection Agency's authority
under the Clean Air Act to regulate heat-trapping pollution from
coal-fired power plants.
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.
plan, with details expected to be revealed 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
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.
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.
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.
really can't understand why they haven't moved forward on this more
quickly, and we hope that turns around," said Nathan Wilcox of
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.
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.