“Whether it be cap-and-trade, a carbon tax, or new greenhouse gas regulations, House Republicans will continue to oppose any plan that drives up energy costs and puts American businesses at a competitive disadvantage,” Whitfield said in a statement.
White House spokesman Jay Carney made it clear to reporters Tuesday that “bipartisan opposition to legislative action is still a reality,” emphasizing that the administration continues to view its climate policy as a way of achieving other goals, such as the expansion of renewable energy.
“Climate change is not — you don’t pursue action that helps deal with that problem just because of the problem itself, but because there are huge opportunities in alternative energy,” Carney said.
League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski said that of all the issues facing the White House, climate change “may be the hardest one to legislate. But here you can make huge changes without legislation.”
In some cases, the White House will have to grapple with climate questions that may force difficult economic decisions. On Tuesday, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) approved a revised route through his state for the Keystone XL pipeline, which will transport heavy crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries.
In a briefing with reporters Tuesday, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said that approving Keystone “would undo any good that was done by the increase in fuel economy” that the administration accomplished in its first term, because extracting the oil releases significant amounts of carbon.
The pipeline has become such a lightning rod in the environmental community that on Tuesday, the Sierra Club’s board of directors approved the use of civil disobedience for the first time in its 120-year history in an effort to oppose it.
And Waxman, as he chatted with Obama at the inaugural lunch at the Capitol on Monday, made it clear that even a lengthy passage in a high-profile speech was not enough to secure the president’s legacy on climate.
“We’ve got to do more than talk about it — we’ve got to act,” the veteran legislator said.
“You’re right,” Obama said, before moving on to the next guest.