"Democratic Senators Pass Torch to EPA on Climate Change"

President Obama's vow to address climate change in his second Inaugural Address January 21 could actually prove more than bold words. Despite the failure of the 111th and 112th Congresses to pass a cap-and-trade bill or any other major climate change legislation, Obama clearly has the power to limit greenhouse gas emissions himself, using his Supreme Court-tested executive authority under the Clean Air Act and other powers. Key Congressional Democrats are urging him on.

"After years of trying—and failing—to get climate-change legislation through Congress, top Senate Democrats are publicly ready to hand over the power to President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency.

'A lot of people don’t recognize that EPA has huge authority to reduce carbon in the air,' Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said at a briefing Tuesday.

'A lot of you press me … on: "Where is the bill on climate change? Where is the bill?" There doesn’t have to be a bill,' Boxer told a group of reporters in her office in the Hart Senate Building. 'There will be many approaches, but I’m telling you right now, EPA has the authority in the transportation sector, in the electricity sector, and the industrial sector under the Clean Air Act.'

Boxer’s public comments come a few months after another top Democrat, Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center Chairman Chuck Schumer of New York, made similar comments to another group of reporters shortly after the election in November. Speaking at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, Schumer noted the significance of EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions and said that Congress could instead tackle smaller bits of policy, such as energy-efficiency legislation."

Amy Harder reports for National Journal January 22, 2013.


"How Obama Can Tackle Climate Change Without Congress" (National Journal/Coral Davenport)

"What Can Obama Do about Climate Change?" (Scientific American/Evan Lehman)

"Obama Inaugurates Renewed Energy on Climate Change" (Guardian/Sarah van Gelder)

"Obama Talked Climate Change in His Inaugural Address. Now Can He Do Something About It?" (TIME/Bryan Walsh)

"Can Obama Make Defeating Climate Change His Legacy?" (Guardian/Damian Carrington)

"Obama On Climate Change Faces High Expectations, And High Hurdles, In Second Term" (Huffington Post/Tom Zeller Jr. 1/17/13)

"Greens to President Obama: Act Now on Climate" (Politico/Erica Martinson 1/15/13)

Press Release: "Broad Coalition Urges President Obama to Tackle Climate Change for Our Families and the Planet" (Natural Resources Defense Council/ 1/7/13)

"Obama Can Tackle Climate in His Second Term, and He Doesn’t Need Congress To Do It" (Grist/David Roberts 12/4/12)

"Using the Clean Air Act to Sharply Reduce Carbon Pollution from Existing Power Plants" (Natural Resources Defense Council/Dan Lashof 12/4/13)

"What Obama Can Do on Climate Change" (Mother Jones/Climate Desk Live/Chris Mooney 11/19/12)

Op-Ed: "What Obama Should Do Now: Tackle Climate Change" (Washington Post/Bill McKibben 11/9/12)

"What Can Obama Do About Climate Change?" (MIT Technology Review/Kevin Bullis 11/7/12)

Source: National Journal, 01/23/2013