“Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest, and our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution,” the president said. “The net effect of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.
“Our energy strategy must be about more than just producing more oil, and by the way, it’s certainly got to be about more than just building one pipeline,” Obama said.
“I know there’s been for example a lot of controversy surrounding one proposal to build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline to carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to the gulf. And the State Department is going through the final states of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done,” he added.
Obama made the remarks at Georgetown University where he laid out a package of executive actions including increased regulation of power plants, more use of solar and wind on federal lands and greener government buildings – including public housing projects.
The House passed a bipartisan bill last month to build the pipeline, which has support from organized labor and business groups. The Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries in Houston and Port Arthur in Texas. The State Department is involved, because the project crosses an international border.
Earlier this year, the State Department released a preliminary report, saying the pipeline was unlikely to cause significant environmental impact. A final report from the State Department is expected this summer.
Proponents say building the pipeline would create at least 20,000 new jobs and bring in 800,000 barrels of oil.
Obama is only taking executive action and bypassing Congress entirely on the global warming, which he insisted was a scientific certainty.
“Power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air,” Obama said. “That’s not right. That’s not safe. That needs to stop.
“Today for the sake of our children and the health and safety of all Americans, I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants,” he added.
Obama used terms like battle when discussing climate change, but said victory could not be measured as simple as a military battlefield or as achieving a goal such as man landing on the moon.
“Progress here will be reached in a different way, in a crisis averted and a planet preserved,” Obama said.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the policies would cost American jobs.
“The president has always been hostile to affordable sources of American energy that power most of our economy, but this program – which amounts to a National Energy Tax – only escalates his attack,” Boehner said in a statement.
“These policies, rejected even by the last Democratic-controlled Congress, will shutter power plants, destroy good-paying American jobs, and raise electricity bills for families that can scarcely afford it. The last thing our economy needs right now is another layer of government red tape that will make it harder to grow businesses and hire more workers. America needs more affordable energy options, not fewer,” he said.
Obama is directing the Department of Interior to use federal lands to double down on increased use of solar, wind and renewable energy project that he says will conserve enough energy to power 6 million homes by 2020.
The administration will also make government-assisted housing projects greener and set a goal to install 100 megawatts of renewable in all public housing. Further, the president is calling for more environmentally friendly military installations.
Obama is also establishing an $8 billion loan guarantee authority to support green energy companies, according to the White House report. This comes after his first term was filled with numerous federally subsidized green energy debacles such as Solyndra, Ener1 and more than a dozen others.
Further, Obama said greener federal buildings will reduce carbon emissions by 3 billion tons by 2030.
The administration will seek bilateral talks with two of the largest polluting countries, China and India, and calls for the United States to finance clean coal-fired power plants overseas.
The White House plan also has a section titled, “Prepare the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change.
The Obama plan establishes a task force of federal, state and local officials to develop “climate resilient” efforts to be ready if global warming causes a catastrophe and launches a partnership with the health care industry for “climate-resilient” hospitals.