- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Despite bitter opposition in Congress, a series of legal setbacks and data showing its environmental regulations will drive up electricity rates, the Obama administration this week is moving full-speed ahead with its climate change agenda, prodding U.S. cities into new policies to reduce carbon emissions.

The White House on Tuesday heralded commitments from several mayors and governors to limit carbon emissions in their respective cities and states. The announcement came in conjunction with similar vows from local officials in China. The U.S. and China earlier this year jointly agreed to historic limits on carbon pollution, with the U.S. saying it will reduce emissions by 28 percent by 2025 and China promising to cap its emissions by 2030.

Tuesday’s announcement, White House officials said, will contribute to the broader goal of meeting President Obama’s 28-percent goal, which will be formalized at a United Nations climate change conference in Paris in December.

“They’re now out there publicly committed to these targets,” Brian Deese, climate adviser to Mr. Obama, told reporters. “There’s a seriousness of effort, not just from the Chinese cities and provinces, but from the U.S. as well.”

Specifically, officials from the Chinese cities of Beijing and Guangzhou are pledging to slow their carbon dioxide emissions by the end of 2020. In the U.S., the state of California has committed to reduce emissions by at least 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, and Seattle has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050.



The administration’s focus on global warming will continue over the next two weeks. Vice President Joseph R. Biden — who is pondering a 2016 presidential bid — will address a Los Angeles climate change conference on Wednesday, and the climate commitments by local U.S. and Chinese leaders also will formally unveiled at the meeting.

The climate push will continue next week when Mr. Obama meets with Pope Francis, with the environment expected to be a key topic among the two leaders. Francis has emerged as one of the world’s leading voices on the issue, having released a lengthy encyclical earlier this year blasting the U.S. and other nations for not doing enough to save the planet.

Mr. Obama lauded the pontiff’s words and said he would continue making climate change a top priority during his second term.

To that end, the administration has, among a host of other steps, released the nation’s first of regulations governing carbon emissions from power plants, though that proposal will face new legal tests and ultimately may end up before the Supreme Court.

The president has encountered legal setbacks before but has kept moving ahead with his environmental agenda.

The Supreme Court, for example, earlier this year struck down the Environmental Protection Agency’s mercury and air toxics standards, designed to limit power-plant emissions. Other pieces of the White House’s environmental agenda also have hit roadblocks in court.

Meanwhile, federal Energy Information Administration data has shown that the EPA’s carbon regulations could raise Americans’ electricity by as much as 7 percent by 2025.

In addition, lawmakers in both parties are deeply opposed to the White House’s host of environmental actions and continue pushing legislation to roll back EPA regulations.

Despite all of that, the administration has shown no signs of slowing down.

“They are focused like a laser beam on this. They’ve spent years putting this together … They’ve spoken with one voice on this in a way that’s truly been impressive. And that tells you it’s coming from the Oval Office,” said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the conservative Institute for Energy Research.

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