Obama calls climate change a national security matter

Chris Rizo Dec. 9, 2008, 10:39pm

Barack Obama (D)

Joe Biden (D)

Al Gore (D)

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Global climate change is a "matter of urgency," U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said Tuesday, bolstering efforts by some state attorneys general to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

After Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden met with former Vice President Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming, Obama said his administration would aggressively tackle climate change.

"All three of us are in agreement that the time for delay is over, the time for denial is over," Obama told reporters after the private meeting at his transition headquarters in Chicago, adding that he wishes to work with Republicans and fellow Democrats on the issue.

Obama said global climate change is "a matter of urgency and of national security and it has to be dealt with in a serious way."

Obama said the greening of the U.S. economy could help create millions of new jobs.

"We have the opportunity now to create jobs all across this country, in all 50 states, to re-power America, to redesign how we use energy, to think about how we are increasing efficiency, to make our economy stronger, make us more safe, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make us competitive for decades to come, even as we're saving the planet," he said.

The president-elect's comments come amid criticism by a bipartisan group of 14 state attorneys general, who have lashed out at the Bush administration for not using the 1990 Clean Air Act to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

"It has a proven track record of effectively dealing with complex air pollution problems...and it has done so without harming the economy," the attorneys general wrote to the EPA late last month.

"Global warming is perhaps the most serious environmental challenge we have ever faced. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that the earth's temperature is warming, that humans largely are responsible for this increase, and that the harms from global warming will likely be severe and widespread," the letter said.

"The effects of climate change are already being felt. We need to take immediate corrective action if we are to avoid the worst projected impacts. The longer we delay, the more difficult, costly and disruptive the challenge becomes," the Nov. 26 letter added.

For his part, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said Monday that a federal bailout of the Big Three automakers should be tied to emissions standards that would require a 30 percent reduction of emissions from motor vehicles by 2016.

"More than a dozen states had adopted similar standards, which the auto industry has fought to prevent from taking effect," said Brown, who last week challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to end eight years of "shameful inaction" by properly enforcing the standards of the Clean Air Act.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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