Obama sticks to carbon plan

THOSE wanting a change of heart by US president Barack Obama regarding carbon emissions are likely to be sorely disappointed after the newly re-elected commander-in-chief reaffirmed his position on the topic and vowed further action.

Donna Schmidt

During his first post-election press event in Washington he said he was planning a bipartisan discussion on carbon cutting and wanted to work with Congress in the second term to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior, and carbon emissions," he said in the televised press conference.

“[A]s a consequence, I think we've got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.”

Obama also noted the nation had a “responsibility” to curb the emissions in a way that was not at the expense of the US economy, as doing so would make it harder for the country to come back from the global financial crisis.

While he promised bipartisan efforts, he did not offer any concrete plan on how he would expand what is being done from a policy perspective to address what he called a major threat, adding the administration had “not done as much as we need to”

Obama also did not mention existing Environmental Protection Agency rules and proposed regulations setting strict limitations on carbon dioxide emissions or the current regulatory environment surrounding the Clean Air Act.

Over the next few weeks, the president said, he was going to have “a wide-ranging conversation” with scientists, engineers and other experts on the climate problem.

While regional differences must be considered, any significant solution would involve “some tough political choices”, he said.

“You can expect that you will hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this agenda forward.

“I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that ... if the message is somehow, we're going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don't think anybody's gonna go for that.

“I won't go for that."

Obama earned at least one skeptic to his plan – coal advocate Nick Rahall, a Democratic US representative from West Virginia.

Rahall was re-elected to his 18th term on his pro-coal mission.

“I will continue to fight to protect West Virginia jobs and the livelihood of our coal miners and economy," Rahall told West Virginia newspaper the State Journal.

“Using climate change or extreme weather events as an excuse for harsher domestic emissions restrictions will mean lost jobs in our state and severe disruptions to our economy, while providing little benefit for the environment."

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