WASHINGTON -- President
The pledge came in a speech on climate policy in which Obama laid out a series of executive actions his administration will take over the next several years to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that are major causes of climate change.
The most significant of those actions was a directive to the
Because power plants emit 40% of the country's carbon dioxide, cutting their emissions is the biggest-single way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The move is likely to boost electricity costs in some parts of the country.
Obama’s overall strategy leans heavily on executive-branch actions, an acknowledgment that the current
The announcement on Keystone would give Obama a reason to block the Alberta-to-Texas pipeline project should he decide to do so, but does not necessarily commit him. He left unspecified how big an increase in emissions he would consider "significant" and whose calculations of the impact he would most heed.
Opponents of the pipeline said they were hopeful about Obama's pledge.
"This is an appropriate standard that the president appears to be setting on Keystone XL. The president is saying what the science has always demanded," said Bill McKibben, founder of the environmental activist group, 350.org, and a leader of the charge against Keystone.
"It's encouraging news for certain."
Republicans quickly pounced on the speech as a misguided priority that will kill jobs.
“The president’s war on affordable energy is a war on jobs,” said
Obama spoke at
The effort to combat climate change would take years, he said, and must become a higher priority. Recent studies that show that 97% of climate scientists accept research showing that the planet is warming and that human activity, most notably the burning of fossil fuels, is the main cause, he noted.
And he jabbed at members of Congress who deny climate change, a group which includes a large percentage of Republican lawmakers.
"We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society," he said.