Podesta touts White House record on oil and gas, climate change

Senior advisor to the president John Podesta talks about the multi-pronged approach to energy policy that the Obama Administration is focusing on this week. (AP)

White House counselor John D. Podesta on Monday touted the administration record on energy production as well as climate change, arguing Democrats can run this fall on the fact they have bolstered the nation's oil and gas industry while tackling global warming.

Podesta ran through a series of slides at the daily press briefing that showed the United States is now the largest producer of natural gas in the world, as well as the largest producer of gas and oil combined.

"In 2012 and 2013, it accounted for .22 and .24 percent of growth, which is the highest on record," he noted, adding, "We've added 133,000 jobs in the last three years in the oil and natural gas extraction sector, and those numbers are projected to continue to grow."

At the same time, Podesta -- who is overseeing the president's climate action plan -- noted that solar and wind production had increased during President Obama's tenure. Over this period, electricity generation from solar increased by more than 10 times, and tripled from wind power, he said.

Obama will be showcasing the issue of climate change this week, by unveiling a report Tuesday detailing how global warming will affect the nation in the years to come and announcing new solar power commitments by the private sector at the end of the week.

"We obviously need all hands on deck if we're going to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, the impacts that the IPCC warned us about just a month or so ago and that the National Climate Assessment will bring into sharp focus with respect to the U.S.," he said.

During the briefing, Podesta said he was confident that Democrats could successfully counter criticism that they're opposed to domestic oil and gas production.

"People will make that argument, but I think that if you look at the overall mix, it's cleaner, it's more domestically produced," he said. "We have turned the corner so that we're now producing more oil than we're importing. Those are all facts that I think that -- that can be utilized by candidates to make the case that we're on the right path to have a cleaner, better and more secure, more American-made energy future for the country."

And Podesta said he was confident the White House could beat back any attempts by congressional Republicans to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency's upcoming proposal to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. which will come out in early June.

"All I would say is that those have zero percent chance of working. We're committed to moving forward with those rules," he said. "We're committed to maintaining the authority and the president's authority to ensure that the Clean Air Act is fully implemented. That's critical to the health of the American people, the health of the economy and the health of our environment. So they may try, but I think that there's -- there are no takers at this end of Pennsylvania Avenue."

Juliet Eilperin is a White House correspondent for The Washington Post, 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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