Bill, actions to come from Obama's climate change call: Waxman
Washington (Platts)--22Jan2013/536 pm EST/2236 GMT
The White House on Tuesday offered no specifics on how President Barack
Obama plans to tackle climate change, a day after his inaugural speech
included a pointed call to action.
But a key Democrat in the House of Representatives said Obama's speech
will compel more climate-related legislation within Congress and additional
environmental regulations from the White House.
Obama's comments on climate change are "an indication he's going to show
strong leadership for legislation, but also actions that the administration
can take without the consent of Congress," said Representative Henry Waxman, a
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Waxman is the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee
and a leading proponent of climate change legislation on Capitol Hill.
In his inaugural address Monday, Obama made arguably his most formidable
call for climate change action, including a transition to sustainable energy
sources and technology.
"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the
failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," Obama
said. "Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can
avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney sought to dampen expectations,
however, telling reporters in a briefing that climate change "is not a
"It is one of a host of priorities that he believes we can act on if we
work together," Carney said.
Pressed for specific pieces of legislation that Obama would support or
any potential executive actions, Carney offered no details, suggesting that
those policies may be outlined in the president's State of the Union address,
scheduled for February 12.
In 2009, Obama had supported a cap-and-trade bill to limit greenhouse
gas emissions, which had been sponsored by Waxman and Representative Ed
Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. The bill passed the then-Democratic
controlled House, but did not pass the Senate.
Carney said the president still supports such legislation but is
"mindful of the fact that opposition exists there."
"I don't have any announcements to make about next steps on [climate
change]," Carney said. "But you can be sure, as he made clear yesterday, that
it is an important priority that we need to work on together for the sake of
the economy. And he looks forward to doing that."
Waxman said one way Obama may choose to address climate change is
through new greenhouse gas regulations from the Environmental Protection
Agency. The EPA has issued GHG regulations for new power plants, but has
postponed rules for existing plants.
Shortly after his re-election in November, Obama acknowledged the
importance of climate change action, but dismissed a carbon tax as
During a House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting Tuesday, Waxman
said the US "urgently needs a new energy policy," and called for bipartisan
action on climate change.
"As Superstorm Sandy demonstrated, we are facing a large and growing
threat from climate change," he said. "I know this is a difficult issue for
[Republicans], but it is one we cannot ignore. I hope we will be able to have
a constructive dialogue this Congress about the pre-eminent energy challenge
of our era."
Waxman called climate change the most pressing issue facing the 113th
"This government will not be known for what it did on fiscal issues, it
will be known for what it did or didn't do on global warming," he said.
But he also acknowledged opposition to climate change legislation from
"I would hope that we don't have the Republican leadership of the House
and of our committee putting their heads in the sand and denying the
science," Waxman said. "We've got a window of opportunity to act and if we
don't act we're all going to pay a very high price."
--Herman Wang, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Brian Scheid, email@example.com
--Edited by Jason Lindquist, firstname.lastname@example.org