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Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Another California Democrat says it's up to the White House on climate change

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Congressional Democrats say it's up to President Obama to use his executive powers to fight climate change. That's the message from California's top environmental Democrats.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) was the chief architect of the climate change bill passed by the House three years ago. That measure died in the Senate.

But Waxman, who's the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, says Congress hasn't been interested in acting on climate issues since Republicans became the majority in the House.

Instead, he's calling on the President to develop a plan for the administration to take action on fighting greenhouse gas emissions.

President should act on his own

Waxman insists the President has "an enormous amount of authority" to do that — and to do it with Congressional help.

"That," says the veteran House member, "may well spur Congress to act."

Instead of legislation, Waxman has formed a Congressional task force with Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island  to "develop policy responses" on climate issues.

Its first act was to send a letter to President Obama "applauding his recognition" of climate change and pledging to "stand with him" in the fight. 

Earlier this week, Democrat Senator Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, also said it was up to the White House to take the lead. Boxer said the Environmental Protection Agency already has the power to regulate emissions in power plants and factories. 

Pressuring the White House on climate change

Environmental groups are also pressing President Obama to keep his inaugural address promise to address the issue.

Some insist he shouldn’t approve the Keystone pipeline that would bring oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The head of the Sierra Club has hinted that fighting the pipeline could include civil disobedience.

Waxman doesn’t like the Keystone pipeline either, but he says it's "only a small issue compared to the overall objective that the President and we want to achieve."

Waxman says he’ll be disappointed if the President approves the pipeline, but he also says it would be “childish and counterproductive” to stop working with the White House on larger climate change issues.

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