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Experts: Obama To Push More Climate Policies In State of the Union Address

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Experts from across the political spectrum expect President Barack Obama to double down on his plans to highlight his global warming agenda in his State of the Union Address Tuesday night.

Conservatives say Obama will continue to subsidize green energy production, hamper oil and natural gas growth on federal lands, and push to create a global climate treaty during pending United Nations negotiations.

“He will announce that he intends to go to Paris and sign an international climate deal,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican political strategist. “Republicans should say that is great, we look forward to the ratification discussion on the resulting treaty.”

U.N. delegates are set to meet in Paris, France at the end of this year to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Obama has been a major proponent of an international agreement on greenhouse-gas emissions despite reports that the globe has not warmed in 18 years and 3 months.

Late last year, Obama proudly announced a climate deal with China to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades. But China repudiated the deal a few weeks after the announcement.

“He will argue that renewable power — expensive, unreliable, and environmentally destructive — is clean, and both cheap and in need of continued subsidies,” said Benjamin Zycher, a policy analyst at the center-right American Enterprise Institute.

“It will be a depressing performance,” Zycher said.

Conservatives also argue that Obama will tout booming oil and gas production during his tenure, which has helped to cause gasoline prices to plummet in the last year. But conservatives argue that the oil and gas boom has little to do with Obama, as virtually all of it is happening on state and private lands.

“He will take credit for the large increase in US oil and gas production that has taken place on private land even as production on federal land has declined,” Zycher argued. “Having argued a few years ago that more drilling would not yield lower prices, he now will take credit for the resulting sharp decline in energy costs despite the fact that it is private investment and technological advances that are responsible for that outcome.”

Environmentalists believe Obama will move forward with major regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and that he will also block Republican legislation aimed at easing regulatory burdens on energy producers.

”We expect President Obama to reaffirm his commitment to leave a safer and healthier planet for our children and future generations by working to combat dangerous climate change,” said Ed Chen, federal communications director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Obama recently released a plan to curb methane emissions from oil and gas operations throughout the country. This comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to finalize rules that would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants this summer.

“Doing so means proceeding full speed ahead on his Clean Power Plan — with America’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants — and shutting down the Republican big polluters agenda in Congress, which is all about blocking action on climate, and is devoid of solutions.” Chen said.

Environmentalists have encouraged Obama to use his executive powers to further impose new global-warming regulations. NRDC and other green groups have argued that Obama should do more to regulate methane emissions. Environmentalists have also pushed Obama to veto energy bills coming out of Congress that promote fossil fuels use, like a bill currently being debated in the Senate to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Republicans have been pushing Keystone’s approval for years, saying the pipeline would help the economy and promote energy independence. Most Democrats and environmentalists say the pipeline would contribute to global warming.

“He will argue that his policies are necessary to deal with a purported climate crisis not supported by the evidence,” Zycher said. “He will not mention that his policies would reduce temperatures by less than two one-hundredths of a degree even as they impose huge costs on the U.S. economy.”

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