EPA chief: U.S. making up for lost
Dec 10, 2009 - Juliet Eilperin -
COPENHAGEN--The United States has been "fighting
to make up for lost time" in the fight against global
warming since President Obama took office, Environmental
Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson said
In the Obama administration's keynote speech at the
U.N.-sponsored climate talks here, Jackson said more
progress has been made in the last 11 months than
what "happened in the last eight years prior" under
former president George W. Bush.
Making a pitch to an international community that
has demanded bolder action from Washington on climate
change, Jackson detailed a list of measures ranging
from stricter fuel economy standards to the promotion
of renewable offshore energy projects.
But Jackson's biggest applause line came when we
said she was "proud" of the EPA's declaration Monday
that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare.
"That is a decision that has been a long time coming,"
she said to a packed crowd in the U.S. Pavillion.
Jackson wouldn't comment publicly on the state of
the U.N.-sponsored climate talks. But she has made
the case for the U.S. position in a series of closed-door
briefings over the last 24 hours, including meetings
with Connie Hedegaard, the Danish chair of the climate
conference, and Xie Zhenhua, vice-chairman of China's
National Development and Reform Commision.
Jackson said she discussed with Hedegaard, who is
guiding negotiations here, the significance of the
greenhouse gas declaration. "No one can say we are
a nation that is...a climate denier," Jackson told
The Washington Post. "We are finally leading the world
for us to have a united solution" to global warming.
In her session with Xie, Jackson said, she discussed
how the two countries could collaborate on a new memorandum
of understanding in which the U.S. has agreed to help
China track its greenhouse gas emissions. "We think
that's very important," she said.
Jackson said she has emphasized in her meetings
that while the Obama administration will push Congress
to enact legislation next year curbing greenhouse
gas emissions, it will move ahead with plans to both
finalize greenhouse gas rules for vehicles in March,
and then curb the carbon output from large emitters
like coal-fired power plants.
"We will continue to think about how the Clean Air
Act applies," she said.
It's unclear whether Jackson--who also met with youth
activists and African women affected by climate change,
and joined deputy special envoy for climate change
Jonathan Pershing in addressing more than 250 non-governmental
group representatives--succeeding in convincing delegates
here that the U.S. has done what it takes to help
secure a global climate pact.
On Wednesday morning, Xie told Reuters the U.S.
needs to lay out a more ambitious reduction target
than its current proposal to cut America's emissions
"in the range of 17 percent" below 2005 levels.
"I do hope that President Obama can bring a concrete
contribution to Copenhagen," Xie said.
In her speech, Jackson said that in light of the
scientific finding, the EPA is obligated "to take
reasonable efforts to reduce greenhouse pollutants
under the Clean Air Act."
In a sign of how intensely people are watching the
Obama administration's actions at this conference,
dozens of people gathered at the door of the small
pavilion long before Jackson started speaking--only
to be turned away because the room was full.
While Jackson deflected questions about the ongoing
state of negotiations, she fielded several queries
about Monday's endangerment decision, which she said
opens the door to regulate greenhouse gas pollution
under the Clean Air Act. At the same time, she said,
the White House still will push Congress to produce
a U.S. climate bill.
"This is not an either/or moment," Jackson said.
"This is a both/and moment." By Juliet Eilperin |
December 9, 2009; 8:05 AM ET