Obama climate plan faces early resistance ahead of roll-out
President Obama’s soon-to-be-unveiled national plan to reduce carbon pollution is running into early opposition from lawmakers concerned over the plan’s potential economic costs.
The plan, which the president will announce next week, is expected to include efforts to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants. It was unclear whether the plan would include calls for controls on existing power plants.
The president said in an online video released Saturday that his plan includes preparing the United States for the effects of such pollution, which has been connected to climate change, and leading other nations in such efforts.
Obama also said in the video that scientists must design new fuels and energy sources to curb carbon pollution. He said no single step can reverse climate change and that workers must prepare for a clean energy economy.
House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Thursday that calling for more energy regulations would be “absolutely crazy.”
“Why would you want to increase the cost of energy and kill more American jobs at a time when the American people are still asking the question, where are the jobs?,” Boehner said.
White House aides have suggested the plan, to be announced at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C., will include calls for renewable energy and energy-efficient appliances and buildings.
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a critic of Obama’s energy and economic policies, told The Hill on Thursday that regulating power plants with requirements that don’t exist in emerging nations like China would be shortsighted.
“Why do you want to penalize and beat the living the daylights out of America and American taxpayers, and American ratepayers? It is just wrong, it is shortsighted and wrong, and I will fight it until the end,” he told the newspaper.
National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring said Saturday that Democratic senators and candidates running in the 2014 elections would be “held accountable” for embracing the administration’s energy policies.
“It’s expected that President Obama’s plan will be a wet kiss to radical environmentalists and the extreme left,” Dayspring said in a statement. “As we await details, many of the leftist proposals discussed by White House officials would crush states such as West Virginia, Kentucky, Alaska, Arkansas, and Louisiana – not to mention plenty of others like Michigan and Montana.”
Environmental groups have for months been pushing Obama to make good on a threat he issued to lawmakers in February in his State of the Union address: “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.” Obama’s move to take the matter into his own hands appears to reflect a growing consensus that opposition in Congress is too powerful for any meaningful, sweeping climate legislation to pass anytime soon.
“They shouldn’t wait for Congress to act, because they’ll be out of office by the time that Congress gets its act together,” Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in an interview.
Another key issue hanging over the announcement — but unlikely to be mentioned on Tuesday — is Keystone XL, a pipeline that would carry oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. A concerted campaign by environmental activists to persuade Obama to nix the pipeline appears to be an uphill battle. The White House insists the State Department is making the decision independently.
Obama’s speech on Tuesday will come the day before he leaves for a week long one hundred million dollar trip to three African nations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.