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President Obama opens 2nd-term drive against climate change

  • President Barack Obama speaks about climate change, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at Georgetown University in Washington. The president is proposing sweeping steps to limit heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants and to boost renewable energy production on federal property, resorting to his executive powers to tackle climate change and sidestepping the partisan gridlock in Congress. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama speaks about climate change, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at Georgetown University in Washington. The president is proposing sweeping steps to limit heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants and to boost renewable energy production on federal property, resorting to his executive powers to tackle climate change and sidestepping the partisan gridlock in Congress. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • President Barack Obama wipes perspiration from his face as he speaks about climate change, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at Georgetown University in Washington. The president is proposing sweeping steps to limit heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants and to boost renewable energy production on federal property, resorting to his executive powers to tackle climate change and sidestepping the partisan gridlock in Congress. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

    President Barack Obama wipes perspiration from his face as he speaks about climate change, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at Georgetown University in Washington. The president is proposing sweeping steps to limit heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants and to boost renewable energy production on federal property, resorting to his executive powers to tackle climate change and sidestepping the partisan gridlock in Congress. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

  • President Barack Obama speaks about climate change, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at Georgetown University in Washington. The president is proposing sweeping steps to limit heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants and to boost renewable energy production on federal property, resorting to his executive powers to tackle climate change and sidestepping the partisan gridlock in Congress. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
  • President Barack Obama wipes perspiration from his face as he speaks about climate change, Tuesday, June 25, 2013, at Georgetown University in Washington. The president is proposing sweeping steps to limit heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants and to boost renewable energy production on federal property, resorting to his executive powers to tackle climate change and sidestepping the partisan gridlock in Congress. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Appealing for courageous action “before it’s too late,” President Obama launched a major second-term drive yesterday to combat climate change and secure a safer planet, bypassing Congress as he sought to set a cornerstone of his legacy.

Abandoning his suit jacket under a sweltering sun at Georgetown University, Obama issued a dire warning 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. Obama said the price for inaction includes lost lives and homes and hundreds of billions of dollars.

“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 new 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 United States 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.

Obama’s announcement followed years of inaction by Congress to combat climate change. A first-term effort by Obama to use a market-based approach called cap-and-trade to lower emissions failed, and in February a newly re-elected Obama issued lawmakers an ultimatum in his State of the Union: “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”

Four months later, impatient environmental activists reveled in the news that Obama was finally taking matters into his own hands, announcing a series of steps that don’t require congressional approval.

“This is the change we have been waiting for,” said Michael Brune, who runs the Sierra Club, an environmental group. “Today, President Obama has shown he is keeping his word to future generations.”

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. Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of the coal-heavy state of West Virginia slammed what she called Obama’s “tyrannical efforts to bankrupt the coal industry.”

“The federal government should leave us the hell alone,” said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, whose agency handles Texas’s environment and energy markets.

Even industry groups that have been friendly to Obama and supportive of his climate goals, such as the Edison Electric Institute, which represents power plants, signaled their apprehension by calling for “achievable compliance limits and deadlines.”

Obama said the same arguments have been used in the past when the U.S. has taken other steps to protect the environment.

“That’s what they said every time,” Obama said. “And every time, they’ve been wrong.”

Obama broke his relative silence on Keystone XL, explicitly linking the project to global warming for the first time in a clear overture to environmental activists who want the pipeline nixed. The pipeline would carry carbon-intensive oil from Canadian tar sands to the Texas Gulf Coast refineries and has sparked an intense partisan fight.

Legacy Comments8

I happened to catch Sean Hannity's show on Fox for a few minutes last night when they were talking about this topic. It's an unrelenting barrage of attacks--subtle and obvious--against the president. There isn't even a semblance of fairness to the show. Now, I'm not really a "greenie" but it doesn't take 97% of scientists who have studied the issue to convince me that man-made climate change is real. It's obvious to me that somethings not right. More and more people who know nor care about politics or science are coming to the same conclusion. There used to be a strong contingent of Republicans who supported environmental causes but they've been pushed aside by the new "pro-business"--as they call themselves--types. The longer they deny, the more foolish they will eventually look. I'm afraid by then it'll be too late.

I know a lot of Dems, Independents and Reps. I have yet to meet a Rep that says climate change does not exist accept for what I read here and see on TV. The issue was never if our climate was changing. The issue was how much, the impact from humans etc. It is very easy to fool folks in regards to science and put out info to justify your agenda. Fools believe that their party does not lie to them. I on the other hand believe most pols are corrupt. As far as Hannity goes, he used to be a lot more balanced, but he has gone off the rails in his arguments. I also believe that Mathews and Maddow are extreme. The message here is extremism on both sides. I was brought up in a mill town and I saw what happens when the EPA has unlimited power and destroys business. That is fact not fiction. I lived in Asia for awhile and their approach to most things is balance. When you go too far one way or the other, you have no balance. That leads to problems. Without cooperation nothing gets fixed. The decisions that president Obama has made, and the power he has given to certain depts in the govt will have a lot of bad consequences. Unfortunately, the uninformed will not realize it till they see and feel it.

the 97% fact has been easily debunked ....... look at it this way...... besides the research debunked that figure the statistic is as relative as saying 97% of preachers believe in GOD

What's easy to debunk is the nonsense from the deniosphere you routinely post here. Half a dozen different surveys of the peer-reviewed literature produce the same result--95% to 98% of the climate science articles published in world-class science journals over the past two decades find that human activity--the burning of fossil fuels--is responsible for the increased warming that is occurring. There is NO debate on the cause among the experts in the climate science community. As Obama said, we don't have time to debate this with the Flat Earth Society. This nation, and the other developed nations need to impose an escalating carbon tax--the market has to treat carbon as the pollutant it is. Until then, Obama's executive orders are the best we can hope for--provided he sticks with them. A good start would be canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline. British Columbia rejected a pipeline; so should we.

"Even the New York Times has at last been constrained to admit what Dr. Pachauri of the IPCC was constrained to admit some months ago. There has been no global warming statistically distinguishable from zero for getting on for two decades." as for the 97% claim the readers can decide themselves when they google these papers.......Cook’s 97% consensus study falsely classifies scientists’ papers according to the scientists that published them ...OR .....Tol statistically deconstructs the 97% Consensus..... Dr. Richard Tol has been tweeting a statistical destruction of the “97% consensus” study.......OR........The 97% consensus paper is starting to fall apart...Two developments suggest that Cook et al 2013 Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature may be soon be headed for “retraction watch”, since serious problems with the data are becoming evident, which when accounted for

Let's hope Obama continues to have the courage that his words imply. Saying 'no' to the Keystone XL Pipeline would be a dramatic step away from fossil fuels. Our best hope for the future is to leave as much coal, oil, and tar sands in the ground as possible. If that means a crash program to construct next generations nuclear reactors, along with solar, wind, emerging technologies, and far stronger conservation measures, then so be it. We need to treat the effort to return to 350 ppm of carbon as the 'moral equivalent of war'. The alternative is more drought, more torrential rainfall and flooding, more extreme weather events of all types. We need to lead the way to a low carbon future, via our innovations in technology and our moral obligation as the world's most advanced economy, and most powerful nation.

Better Headline: "Obama opens 2nd term with everything possible to 'fundamentally change' our country forever; attacking our prosperity, health care, Constitutional rights and the American way of life....Globull Warming just one more idelogical move in controlling the population.

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield Obama has failed to fix the economy or win the war in Afghanistan, but give him an imaginary problem and he’s on it like Michelle on a glazed poundcake. Even major liberal media outlets are admitting that the whole Global Warming thing isn’t panning out. So that’s the perfect time for His Majesty Barack I, Protector of the Planet from the Carbon Devil, to announce that he will be bypassing Congress and going all Imperial Presidency on a problem that even its enthusiastic backers are backing away from. While raising electricity rates sky high.

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