President Barack Obama will outline “commonsense” steps to tackle climate change in the weeks ahead, White House energy adviser Heather Zichal said, confirming what the president is telling donors privately.
The administration plans include measures that don’t require congressional action, such as pushing energy efficiency standards for appliances, clean-energy production on public lands and regulations to curb carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants, she said today in Washington.
Obama “is serious about making it a second-term priority,” Zichal said at a forum sponsored by the New Republic magazine. “The president is very focused on commonsense measures” to deal with the threat, she said.
At closed-door fundraisers in the past few weeks, the president has been telling Democratic party donors that he will unveil climate proposals in July to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to people who have attended the events or been briefed, Bloomberg News reported on June 14.
Obama’s promise frequently comes in response to pleas from donors to reject TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL project, a $5.3 billion pipeline that would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to U.S. refineries, according to those who attended the sessions. Opponents say Keystone would increase greenhouse-gas emissions by encouraging use of the tar sands.
In a speech today in Berlin, Obama said the U.S. “will do more” to cut carbon emissions.
“The effort to slow climate change requires bold action,” Obama said, warning that more severe storms, famines and floods will affect all nations. “This is the global threat of our time.”
Obama hasn’t told donors what he will do about Keystone, which requires a presidential permit, and Zichal didn’t mention it today. Instead, she discussed actions taken by the administration and promised more effort to tackle the job.
Environmentalists are closely watching the administration’s plans for Environmental Protection Agency rules for greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, the largest single source of such pollution. EPA proposed standards for new plants last year, and is late on issuing the final regulations.
The agency still must establish standards for existing plants, a rule that the Natural Resources Defense Council estimates could cut their carbon-dioxide release by 26 percent.
“In the near term, we are very much focused on the power plant part of that equation,” Zichal said, when asked if EPA would be pursuing regulation of refineries or other emitters.
The administration will also pursue more solar and wind installations on public lands, and use the Department of Energy to set efficiency standards for appliances, Zichal said.