Obama Could Bypass Congress to Fulfill Climate Pledge

President Barack Obama, whose inaugural address made climate change a second-term priority, could bypass Congress and implement much of his environmental agenda unilaterally through regulations and executive action.

Obama could, for example, impose curbs on coal-fired power plants of companies such as American Electric Power Co. (AEP) and limit methane discharged during hydraulic fracturing, environmentalists say. He could reject Keystone XL, a pipeline that would carry Canadian tar-sands crude to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Nebraska’s governor yesterday approved a new route, clearing the way for Obama’s decision on the TransCanada Corp. (TRP) project.

The president can accomplish much of what was sought under the failed 2009 cap-and-trade legislation by rules, in part relying on authority in the four-decade-old Clean Air Act and a 2007 Supreme Court decision applying it to carbon emissions.

“He doesn’t need new legislation in order to make significant progress,” David Doniger, climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said. “The primary pathway is to use the legal authority he clearly already has.”

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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