With climate change bill unlikely, lawmakers want Obama action
Washington (Platts)--24Jan2013/1237 pm EST/1737 GMT
Conceding that any climate change legislative efforts would face
overwhelming opposition in Congress, the authors of one of the most
high-profile climate change bills are now pinning their hopes on
administrative action from President Barack Obama.
"Congress has not been interested in acting, particularly in the House,
in the last two years, so we're calling on the president to develop a plan
for the administration to take action without Congress and he has an enormous
amount of authority to do that," Representative Henry Waxman, a California
Democrat, said at a press conference Thursday. "That may well spur Congress
to act... but we cannot just sit back and wait for something to happen."
Instead, Waxman and Representative Edward Markey,
Democrat-Massachusetts, want the administration to push for stricter
emissions regulations on everything from power plants to automobiles.
Article continues below...
Request a free trial of: Inside Energy
Inside Energy and its companion, Inside EnergyEXTRA, bring you reporting on energy policy developments in the U.S. government and how policy decisions and implementation impact the production, delivery, and use of energy resources. Content includes oil, natural gas, electricity, coal, nuclear energy, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Inside Energy has covered U.S. energy policy for more than 30 years, and our team of veteran editors and reporters offers insight unsurpassed in the industry.
Waxman and Markey authored the American Clean Energy and Security Act of
2009. That bill, also known as the Waxman-Markey Bill, called for an
emissions trading scheme, similar to the trading system set up in the
European Union. The bill narrowly passed the House, but was defeated in the
Since that bill's defeat, and the Republican takeover of the House,
legislative action on climate change has proved far more difficult. The House
has voted 53 times to block action on climate change and Republicans on the
House Energy and Commerce Committee have ignored repeated requests from
Waxman and other Democrats to hold hearings on climate change. Waxman is the
top Democrat on the committee.
Waxman said Thursday that Obama's call for climate-change action in his
inaugural address on Monday may spark climate change actions which have been
stymied by Congress for years.
In a letter to Obama Friday, Waxman, Markey and Senator Sheldon
Whitehouse, Democrat-Rhode Island, urged the president to "develop a
comprehensive climate change plan as expeditiously as possible," by taking a
series of executive actions.
They wrote that Obama should direct federal agencies to take steps to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 17% below 2005 levels by the end
of the decade, accelerate federal investments in clean-energy technology and
develop a new strategy to implement climate change protections.
NO REPUBLICAN INTEREST
While the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed new greenhouse
gas standards for power plants and new limits on emissions from cars and
light trucks a "much more aggressive plan of action is needed," Waxman,
Markey and Whitehouse wrote.
"The Administration has broad authorities to lower heat-trapping
emissions, to spur research and development in clean energy, and to develop
adaptation strategies," they wrote.
The lawmakers wrote that the EPA could set new emission standards, the
Department of Energy could set tighter energy efficiency standards and
federal agencies could work together on new limits on methane and black
carbon pollution, they wrote.
"We have to have all options on the table," Whitehouse said Thursday at
a press conference with Waxman to announce a new bicameral climate change
While the task force is bicameral, it is not yet bipartisan. No
Republicans in the House or Senate have expressed interest in the effort yet,
Waxman said. Several high profile Republicans have also indicated this week
that while they expect more climate change-related regulations to come from
the White House, they would likely not back any climate change legislation.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and
Natural Resources Committee, told reporters Wednesday that she would not
support any legislation which would cause energy prices to increase. She said
she also was opposed to any administrative actions directed at climate change.
"I don't like that, I'll be very honest with you, if we are directing
climate policy I think that needs to be done through legislation, not kind of
the backdoor route of regulation," the Alaska Republican said.
Representative Ed Whitfield, a Kentucky Republican and the chairman of
the House subcommittee on Energy and Power, told reporters Tuesday that he
does not even support the argument that emissions from power plants and
automobiles are even contributing to global warming. In addition, he said the
issue is not a priority for voters and one he said should not be pursued.
"Most people do not view climate change as one of those urgent issues,"
Whitfield said. "There are a lot of other issues more important in my view,
like energy independence and so forth. I think the president understands
--Brian Scheid, email@example.com
--Edited by Richard Rubin, firstname.lastname@example.org