On the eve of Senate hearings on sweeping climate change legislation, President Obama said Friday that opponents are losing the debate over Democrats’ controversial plan to cap carbon dioxide emissions.
During a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Mr. Obama said the coalition behind the legislation shows that a “convergence” of military leaders, businesses, environmental groups and young people have come together to back his stance that the United States should lead the world in cutting greenhouse gases.
“The naysayers, the folks who would pretend this is not an issue, they are being marginalized,” Mr. Obama said.
The president said the world is engaged in a “peaceful competition” to develop renewable energy sources. “The nation that wins this competition will be the nation that leads the global economy … I want America to be that nation,” he said.
He spoke to students and faculty after touring MIT’s green energy research program, before going on to a fundraiser for Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat running for re-election.
The House earlier this year passed a climate bill centered on a cap-and-trade emissions reduction plan that would raise billions of dollars from greenhouse gas emitters. The government would hand out nearly all of the proceeds to industry, states, utilities and conservation projects to offset expected higher energy prices and pay for renewable-energy development.
A companion bill has been introduced by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, and Sen. John Kerry, Democrat from Massachusetts who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mrs. Boxer has scheduled three days of hearings starting Tuesday.
Mr. Obama has pushed the Senate to either pass its bill or make substantial progress before the upcoming United Nations global climate conference in Copenhagen in December.