Republicans are taking the offensive and accusing President Obama of waging a "war on coal" and a "war on jobs" with his new proposals to reduce carbon emissions and limit climate change.
Obama unveiled his proposals Tuesday in a speech at Georgetown University that set off a firestorm of criticism from conservatives and triggered a strong defense from environmentalists.
"I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that's beyond fixing," the president said. "And that's why today I'm announcing a new national climate action plan."
"We don't have time for a meeting of the flat earth society," he added. "Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safe, but it won't protect you from the coming storm."
Obama's climate-change agenda is based on unilateral actions by the executive branch because he has concluded that the deeply divided Congress won't pass comprehensive legislation to reduce global warming. One of his most controversial proposals is to impose stringent limits on emissions from coal-fired plants.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., denounced the proposals. "Declaring a 'War on Coal' is tantamount to declaring a 'War on Jobs,'" McConnell told the Senate. "It's tantamount to kicking the ladder out from beneath the feet of any Americans struggling in today's economy."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters: "The president has always been hostile to affordable sources of American energy that power most of our economy but this program – which amounts to a National Energy Tax – only escalates his attack."
On the other side, Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, "The president nailed it; this can't wait. We will cut this carbon pollution today so our children don't inherit climate chaos tomorrow."
Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com and "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He is the author of the new book "Prisoners of the White House: The Isolation of America's Presidents and the Crisis of Leadership." Ken Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Facebook and Twitter.