Climate Change a Top Obama Administration Agenda Item

Posted on March 6, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By Carl Chancellor

Obama nominated Gina McCarthy to head up the EPA and Ernest J. Moniz to run the Department of Energy.

Obama nominated Gina McCarthy to head up the EPA and Ernest J. Moniz to run the Department of Energy.

Just like our nation’s summers are increasingly doing of late, the issue of climate change is heating up in Washington.

In his recent State of the Union address President Obama made it clear that tackling climate change is going to be a priority in his second term. But unlike the Administration’s other top agenda items — the budget, immigration, and gun control — climate change is the one area where the President can take direct action through the use of the powers of the executive branch. And the President made it clear during his SOTU address that is what he intends to do.

“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change…But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will…I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

On Monday (March 4) the President named two new Cabinet members who will be charged with carrying out his promise of direct action — Gina McCarthy, to head up the EPA and Ernest J. Moniz, to run the Department of Energy. According to the New York Times, “the appointments send an unmistakable signal that the President intends to mount a multifaceted campaign in his second term to take tackle climate change…”

Although Sens. Barbara Boxer, (D-CA) and Bernie Saunders, (I-VT) have introduced a major climate-change bill, the measure has almost no chance of gaining congressional approval. But as the National Journal noted: “The failure of a high-profile bill would create the opportunity for the administration to roll out its new regulations.”

At the center of this regulatory action will be the EPA, which along with several other federal agencies will be empowered to devise measures under existing laws that achieve essential reductions in carbon pollution, according to the Center for American Progress (CAP).

“The EPA, for example, can establish a carbon-pollution standard for existing power plants under the Clean Air Act…In addition, federal agencies, led by FEMA can work together to assist communities with their efforts to become more resilient to climate-related extreme weather, noted CAP.”

The fact that agencies such as the EPA and others will be drafting regulations provides an excellent opportunity for those well-positioned, such as groups, businesses, individuals, municipalities represented by Turner GPA, to influence policy.  As the National Journal pointed out: “To help them [EPA] do it, they’re inviting in heads of the industries and businesses that will soon be forced to implement the rules. Business leaders, although they’re not happy about the coming regulations, are jumping on the opportunity to communicate their concerns and perhaps help shape the rules they’ll have to live by.”

While some members of Congress might be slow to grasp the urgency of addressing climate change, a majority of Americans of all political stripes understand that kicking this can down the road is no longer an option. In 2011 and 2012 there were 25 extreme weather events that caused at least $1 billion in damage each and took a total of 1,107 lives. That’s why a recent nationwide survey found widespread support for “the President taking significant steps to address climate change now,” including “62 percent of Independents and 38 percent of Republicans.”

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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