Obama promises climate action

While President Obama called on Congress to pass the same kind of cap-and-trade legislation which died in 2010, urging it “to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change,” no such bill is likely to pass in the next two years.

The president acknowledged this in his speech, saying, “But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”

“I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy,” he added.

Obama did not specify if the Environmental Protection Agency would regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, which would have the biggest impact on America’s carbon output. But this remains a viable policy option, along with directing federal funds to help communities adapt to climate change and promoting renewable energy development on public land. EPA may also take other measures aimed at cutting air pollution in an Obama second term, whether it’s limiting cruise ship pollution or setting a tighter standard for smog-forming ozone. But the president was silent on one of the most contentious climate issues he will face: whether to grant a presidential permit to the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.
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