President Barack Obama is laying out his framework for combating climate change.
If successful, it could be a major accomplishment and part of his legacy.
The president is bypassing Congress, and the delegation has mixed reaction.
The president has long said he wants to reduce carbon emissions as a safety net for future generations.
And that’s why he chose to lay out his new plans on Tuesday to college students at Georgetown.
“I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” President Obama said.
He plans on attacking climate change from many flanks: regulating CO2 emissions at power plants, funding renewable energy projects on federal land, international agreements, and making cities safer from future weather changes.
That last one gets the praise of Senator Mark Begich – who calls Alaska ‘Ground Zero’ for climate change.
“We see the effects of it, everything from acidification of waters to warming of waters that impact our fisheries, to permafrost melting, we see it all,” Begich said.
Begich neither criticizes nor praises the president’s new plan. He says he supports anything that protects the environment – but focus should be elsewhere right now.
“I think the broader issue we should be focused on is a large energy plan,” Begich said.
The most controversial measure would regulate coal plant emissions – something never done before. The president wants the EPA to draft a rule next year, and enact it in 2015.
He does not specify what the new standards will be.
And he does not need Congressional approval. He can force the rule changes from his office. Senator Lisa Murkowski dismisses the tactic.
“When you try to advance legislation that is going to have a detrimental effect on the economy, it’s going to be tough to get legislative support in this body,” Murkowski said. “So I think the president is looking at this and saying, ‘Well, we’ll go in the backdoor.’”
She says it could be bad for the economy because the new regulation could potentially increase the cost of electricity.