WHITE HOUSE —
U.S. President Barack Obama Tuesday laid out his agenda for fighting climate change. The president will issue a series of executive orders to address the problem.
Obama put forth an ambitious, wide-ranging plan aimed at reducing the carbon emissions that are blamed for climate change.
And he said the debate over the existence of global warming is obsolete.
“The planet is warming, and human activity is contributing to it," the president said. "So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it is too late.”
At Washington’s Georgetown University, the president said one of his main goals is for the government to regulate the amount of heat-trapping carbon dioxide put out by power plants.
“But power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free. That is not right," Obama said. "It is not safe, and it needs to stop.”
Obama plans to implement his initiatives through executive orders, since Congress has blocked his environmental legislation in the past.
The top Senate Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, said Tuesday imposing carbon rules on power plants amounts to an energy tax.
McConnell, from the coal-producing state of Kentucky, also blasted Obama’s call to end U.S. support for public financing for new coal-fired plants in other countries.
“Declaring a war on coal is tantamount to declaring a war on jobs," he said. "It is tantamount to kicking the ladder out from beneath the feet of many Americans struggling in today’s economy.”
As part of a global effort, Obama said he would work with China and other major polluters to reduce carbon emissions. He recently reached an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to phase out chlorofluorocarbons, greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
“We compete for business with them, but we also share a planet," Obama said. "And we have to all shoulder the responsibility for keeping the planet habitable, or we are going to suffer the consequences together.”
The president’s initiative would also allow more wind and solar energy projects on government land.
It would raise government standards for vehicle fuel efficiency.
And it would send federal money to local governments to help them deal with the effects of climate change-related weather disasters.