President Barack Obama, declaring that “Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction” on climate change, on Tuesday announced sweeping measures to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and prepare the nation for a future of damaging weather aggravated by rising temperatures.
Embracing an issue that could define his legacy but also ignite new battles with Republicans, Obama said he would use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation's power plants.
That was the centerpiece of a three-part plan that includes new federal spending to advance renewable energy technology, as well as spending to protect cities and states from the ravages of storms and droughts that are exacerbated by a changing climate.
Saying science had put to rest the debate over whether human activity was warming the Earth, Obama said, “The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it is too late.”
Republicans were quick to condemn the president's proposals, saying they constituted a government overreach that would constrict energy production and strangle the nation's economic recovery.
“These policies, rejected even by the last Democratic-controlled Congress, will shutter power plants, destroy good-paying American jobs and raise electricity bills for families that can scarcely afford it,” Speaker John Boehner said in a statement before Obama spoke.
Obama proposed the first limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants and promised to complete pending rules for new plants. He will direct the Environmental Protection Agency to work with states and industries to devise standards for emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases from existing power plants by June 2014, White House aides said.
— New York Times News Service