President Barack Obama delivered a highly anticipated speech on climate change at Georgetown University today. North Country Bureau Chief Pat Bradley has reaction from across our region.
President Obama took to the stage and immediately removed his suit jacket and periodically wiped his brow on the warm June afternoon.
The optics highlighted the data he delivered in his speech - that science has shown the 12 warmest years in recorded history occurred in the past 15 years, last year temperatures in some areas of the ocean rose to record highs, and ice in the arctic shrank to its smallest size on record.
President Obama laid out a three-pronged plan that bypasses Congressional action. Environmental and conservation advocates in New York and Vermont are pleased with the efforts he plans to take to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change and to adapt to the damage that has already occurred. New York Public Interest Research Group Senior Environmental Advocate Laura Haight found it a powerful speech.
Six years ago the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gasses are pollutants under the Clean Air act and required the EPA determine whether they are health threats subject to regulation. The agency made that determination in 2009. Despite that, the president says with nearly 40 percent of carbon pollution coming from power plants, no carbon limits have yet been set.
Adirondack Mountain Club Executive Director Neil Woodworth says that will be the most difficult part of the president’s plan.
President Obama said dealing with climate change must move beyond partisan politics.
Vermont Natural Resources Council Communications Director Jake Brown called Obama’s comments among the boldest and most promising statements regarding climate change.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders applauded the President for taking steps to limit the carbon emissions leading to climate change. But in his statement, the Independent Senator also noted that a tax is needed on carbon and methane emissions, and Congressional support must be engaged on energy efficiency and renewable development. Sanders further cautioned President Obama against any support for the Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian tar sands oil fields.