President Barack Obama announced new proposals to reduce the impacts of climate change in a speech Tuesday. He released a three-part plan to address the issue that he had pledged to tackle in his first term.
Obama said he wants to work with Congress to reduce the country's carbon dioxide emissions. But he also acknowledged that getting his climate change agenda passed would be nearly impossible, so he would instead invoke his executive powers.
In order to cut carbon pollution, the president's plan said the country must invest in renewable and clean energy innovation, increase fuel economy standards and cut energy waste. "As a president, as a father and as an American, I am here to say, we need to act. I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that is beyond saving," said Obama.
The plan also included measures to protect the economy and natural resources from the adverse impacts of climate change. The president said the United States must work with other countries to address the global repercussions of climate change by encouraging international negotiations.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, released a statement ahead of the president's speech, condemning Obama's proposed actions:
At a time when millions of Americans remain out of work and the cost of groceries, gas, and health care continues to rise, it is astonishing that President Obama is unilaterally imposing new regulations that will cost jobs and increase energy prices. 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.
Republicans have been particularly critical of Obama's hesitation in approving the Keystone XL pipeline, which they say will decrease the country's dependence on foreign oil and create jobs. While he didn't say what criteria would be used to measure the pipeline's possible effects, Obama said Tuesday the pipeline shouldn't be constructed if it would adversely affect the climate.
Our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of climate change. The net effect on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project will be allowed to go forward.
The Sierra Club said it welcomes the president's overdue proposals on climate change, and the plan shows the president is "finally putting action behind his words:"
The President's plan gives us hope that he will cement his climate legacy and protect future generations by rejecting the dirty and dangerous Keystone XL pipeline, ending destructive oil drilling in the Arctic, halting mountaintop removal, stopping reckless liquefied natural gas exports, and abandoning dirty fuels in favor of clean energy.
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