The Obama Administration Needs to Curb Greenhouse-Gas Emissions from Public Lands and Waters

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In his second Inaugural Address, President Barack Obama promised significant action on climate change during his second term, noting that, “The failure to [address it] would betray our children and future generations.” Secretary of State John Kerry echoed that commitment in his remarks last month, calling attention to the ramifications of inaction on climate change and of continuing an “energy policy that results in acidification, the bleaching of coral, the destruction of species, the change in the Arctic because of the ice melt. … The entire system is interdependent, and we toy with that at our peril.”

In addition, the Obama administration has made good initial progress on new policies to decrease greenhouse-gas emissions, such as the adoption of the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from cars and trucks. While the administration’s renewed commitment to addressing one of the most pressing problems of our time is encouraging, the quantity and pace of fossil-fuel development on our federal lands and waters is at odds with the president’s goal of further reducing carbon pollution to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

In light of this reality and in the face of a do-nothing Congress, the executive branch must find ways to use its authority to curb the greenhouse-gas emissions that fuel climate change, especially when the pollution is derived from public lands and waters.

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