Environmentalists Unite in Quest to Fight Global Warming

The nation’s environmental leaders are mounting a double battle against global warming, and they see President Obama’s remaining time in the White House as critical in winning both of them.

In interviews with the leaders of seven major environmental organizations, they all indicated a sense of unity and urgency on rolling out regulations to control the greenhouse-gas emissions that scientists agree cause climate change and on blocking the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry carbon-heavy oil sands 1,700 miles from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

“I was recently with my colleagues at a quarterly CEO meeting with different groups, and I would say I feel very strongly that we’re unified that these two things go hand in hand in an ask to the White House,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They’re both very important to the community as a whole.”

The environmental chiefs don’t want one or the other. They want both. They’re lobbying Obama, who promised action on climate change in his second term but has yet to follow up, to both deny the pipeline and move quickly on Environmental Protection Agency regulations controlling carbon emissions. They reject the political theory conceived by some Democratic and Republican insiders throughout Washington that the White House may make a trade-off by approving the pipeline but simultaneously signaling bold action on climate change with EPA rules.

“I’m not going to weigh one against the other, not going to go there,” said Fred Krupp, who has been the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the most influential environmental groups, for almost 30 years. “It shouldn’t be one or the other. I think he should get both of them right.”

Krupp’s comments may surprise some in the environmental community, because EDF has been relatively quiet on the pipeline compared with other groups interviewed for this article, including NRDC, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, CREDO, and 350.org.

“I could imagine EDF making a trade-off, because they’ve been pretty quiet on the pipeline, and they have a history of making trade-offs,” said Michael Kieschnick, president and cofounder of CREDO Mobile, a wireless phone company that forcefully advocates for progressive causes, especially climate change.

In a mostly organic manner, the organizations have divided up the labor. Leading the way on the Keystone XL pipeline have been CREDO; 350.org, a global environmental group founded in 2007 by author Bill McKibben; and the Sierra Club. All three groups have pledged to carry out an act of civil disobedience (in other words: get arrested) to protest the project.

EDF and NRDC are especially focused on lobbying EPA to get going on what are poised to be the most complicated, most litigated, and most contentious regulations the agency has rolled out in its 43-year history.

“This is one issue where [Obama] has executive authority under the Clean Air Act, and our No. 1 ask is to get him to use that authority to reduce emissions from existing power plants,” Beinecke said. “The single largest carbon-reduction potential is from the power-plant rule.”

CREDO’s Kieschnick acknowledged that EPA rules have a greater potential to cut carbon emissions than would denial of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“I would say that if you would add up all the regulations, all the coal regulations, mercury regulations, ozone, plus the new and existing [rules for carbon emissions], numerically they would have a bigger impact done correctly than a yes/no decision on Keystone,” he said.

Kieschnick has attended private events recently where he said he asked Obama directly about the pipeline and the EPA rules. On Keystone, the president told him he hasn’t made a decision. On pending rules controlling carbon emissions from new plants, Obama told him EPA will issue those rules. But when Kieschnick has asked the administration about the specific rules that will have the greatest impact—those targeting current power plants—“you don’t get a useful answer,” he said. “I don’t think they’re committed to issuing one on existing power plants.”

That’s the irony the community is facing. With scientists reporting last month that the planet has reached a grim milestone in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, environmentalists are more united than ever behind their goals. And yet they face more political roadblocks than ever in Washington in getting something big done. Congress is gridlocked and is not poised to do anything significant on climate-change policy. Obama has been quiet in the first six months of his second term, after promising a lot.

“The president himself needs to become a much stronger voice on the urgency of this matter,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Without that, I don’t think we’re going to get the kind of traction that we desperately need to get.”

Loading...
  • Pangolins under threat in Gabon as demand surges in Asia
    Pangolins under threat in Gabon as demand surges in Asia

    Hunted for generations for its tasty meat, the scaly-skinned pangolin is under threat in Gabon as demand for the small mammal surges in Asia, where it is used in traditional medicine. "People hunt the pangolin like any other meat because the forest is often the only resource" for people in Gabon, more than 80 percent of which is covered by woodland, said Gaspard Abitsi, managing director of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). At a local restaurant in Libreville, the pangolin is one of the stars on the menu. In Gabon, environmental groups are trying to convince villagers of the need to protect the pangolin.

  • Hottest Trainer 2014: Hottest Trainer Contestant #7: Annie Thompson
    Hottest Trainer 2014: Hottest Trainer Contestant #7: Annie Thompson

    Annie Thompson was counting down the days for Pure Barre DC to open. The Memphis native had taken Pure Barre back in her hometown, and when she got back to D.C. after her...

  • Texas Gov. Perry booked on abuse of power charges
    Texas Gov. Perry booked on abuse of power charges

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry was defiant as he was booked on abuse of power charges Tuesday, saying he would "fight this injustice with every fiber of my being."

  • Bizarre Twist in Million-Dollar Mega-Closet Robbery
    Bizarre Twist in Million-Dollar Mega-Closet Robbery

    A person who claims to be the man caught on camera ransacking the three-story closet of a Texas socialite says some of the estimated $1 million in items he allegedly stole are fakes. The alleged thief made the claims in a voice-modulated call reportedly made to the Houston Press on Aug. 12, less than two [...]

  • Couple Returns Home From Honeymoon to Find Home Covered in Post-It Notes
    Couple Returns Home From Honeymoon to Find Home Covered in Post-It Notes

    Meet Jamie and Emily Pharro, newlyweds from Lincolnshire, England. After their nuptials on Aug. 1, the pair handed their keys over to friends to look after their cats while they were on their honeymoon. Upon their return from a glorious holiday in Italy, the Pharros found that their prankster pals had arranged a noteworthy welcome — in the way of 14,000 Post-it notes covering the first floor of their house. The sticky pieces of paper covered the entryway, the living room, and the kitchen.

  • Funeral planned for Missouri teen shot by police as clashes persist
    Funeral planned for Missouri teen shot by police as clashes persist

    By Scott Malone and Ellen Wulfhorst FERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - Funeral services are planned on Monday for an unarmed black teenager whose fatal shooting by a white policeman in Missouri has ignited more than a week of racially charged clashes in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. As lawyers for the family of Michael Brown, 18, announced plans on Tuesday for his funeral, U.S. Police said they came under gunfire again overnight and made dozens of arrests despite the deployment of Missouri National Guard troops and the lifting of a curfew to allow protesters more freedom to demonstrate. There were at least 57 arrests on Monday night and into Tuesday, most on a charge of failure to disperse, according to the St. Louis County Justice Services Center.

  • Indonesia hunts Spaniards missing in tourist boat sinking
    Indonesia hunts Spaniards missing in tourist boat sinking

    Indonesian rescuers Tuesday expanded their search for two Spanish men still missing after a tourist boat sank at the weekend, forcing survivors to swim hours to dry land and drink their own urine.

  • Russia vows to strengthen navy to ward off NATO
    Russia vows to strengthen navy to ward off NATO

    Russia announced plans Tuesday to bolster its navy with more advanced weapons in response to NATO's vow to halt the Kremlin's push into Ukraine and feared expansion into eastern Europe. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told a general security meeting that he expected to hear a detailed report from Russia's navy commander about how this could be achieved efficiently over the coming six years. "These proposals must ensure that our forces are reequipped with modern weapons and military equipment," Russian news agencies quoted Shoigu as saying. NATO and the United States have both stepped up air defences of former Soviet satellites that are growing increasingly wary of Russia's military ambitions and see President Vladimir Putin as a fast-emerging threat.

Follow Yahoo! News