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Obama's New Environmental Plan Heating Up Controversy

by Jana Ritter - Published: 6/26/2013

On Tuesday, President Obama bypassed Congress and launched a major second-term drive to combat climate change and secure a safer planet. A plan that will include further regulations for Class 2-8 trucks. An official of the Environmental Protection Agency said the EPA would work with affected parties, including truck makers and others in the transportation industry, to develop the regulations.

Obama

Speaking under the scorching sun at Georgetown University, Obama gave a dire warning about the environment: Temperatures are rising, sea levels are climbing, the Arctic ice is melting and the world is doing far too little to stop it. He 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.”

Calling for his country to be a global leader in solution, Obama's plan includes control on new and existing power plants that emit carbon dioxide, to boost renewable energy production on federal lands, increase efficiency standards and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures. He also offered a rare glimpse into his own 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.

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. “Our national interest would be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” 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. 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' environment and energy markets.

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.”

The White House indicated Obama was referring to overall, net emissions that take into account what would happen under alternative scenarios.