Redford Hopes Obama ‘Has the Courage’ to Bypass Congress on ‘Dirty Coal’

By Elizabeth Harrington | June 11, 2013 | 3:25 PM EDT

Actor Robert Redford. (AP)

( – Actor and long-time liberal Robert Redford said he hopes President Barack Obama has the “courage” to bypass Congress and make coal-powered power plants reduce their carbon emissions.

In a video message for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Redford, an environmental activist, said that because Congress has not taken action to address climate change, Obama should.

“Record setting heat and drought, rising sea levels and severe weather events like Hurricane Sandy: climate change is happening, fast,” Redford said.  “We’ve got to stop making the problem worse and that means reducing carbon pollution from its biggest source, coal-fired power plants.  It’s harming our environment and our communities.”

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“Even so, Congress has refused to take steps that would protect us from climate change,” he said.  “The good news is that President Obama has pledged to act and he has the power to do it.”

Redford said Obama could administratively affect coal policy with the EPA.  “Through the Environmental Protection Agency the president can require dirty coal plants to cut carbon pollution,” he said.  “Replacing dirty fuels with clean power and energy efficiency is going to create jobs, boost the economy and save us money.  But most important of all, it will protect our climate.”

“I just hope the president has the courage of his convictions,” Redford added.

“Please, urge the president to make dirty power plants clean up their carbon pollution,” he said.  “We owe that to future generations.”

(AP Photo)

Redford’s call comes after the EPA has already proposed new emission standards that will make it “nearly impossible to build a new coal-fired power plant in the United States.”

The EPA rule—which would limit newly built power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions to 1,000 pounds-per-megawatt-hour—has been delayed, but if instituted would result in the shut down of 280 coal-fired generating units, according to a report.

Before taking office, President Obama said he would bankrupt coal power plants with a cap and trade system.

The coal industry "would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted-down caps that are being placed, imposed every year," he said in 2008.

"So, if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted," Obama said.