Tags: Podesta | pollution | climate | EPA

John Podesta Speaks on Obama Agenda — Part I

By    |   Monday, 16 June 2014 07:58 AM

John Podesta, counselor to President Obama, a leading eminence grise who was White House Chief of Staff during the Clinton administration, has run one of the most prominent strategy firms in Washington and founded and is now chair at the Center for American Progress, a liberal organization he has called "a think tank on steroids," as well as a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center, appeared before Washington reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor on June 6. David Cook, senior editor of The Monitor, introduced Podesta, who spoke briefly before taking questions.

EPA Carbon Pollution rule

Podesta said he has been busy working on the rollout of carbon pollution restrictions on power plant operations as part of his work as coordinator of climate change and energy programs for the White House. He spoke at some length and with zeal about the proposal, stating that the plants account for 40 percent of CO2 pollution in the United States and a third of overall greenhouse gas emissions, so they are the largest source of CO2 pollution.

Based on the benefits he outlined, Podesta called the proposal "a big deal," and he vowed, "We intend to get the job done; we've created a flexible rule on asthma-related illnesses that can be implemented by the states, but it will have enormous public health benefits. I wanted to start with that because it's what I've been up to this week."

Cook asked about four hurdles that could stand in the way of implementing the power plant rule: a court challenge, action by coal-dependent states, action by Congress under the Congressional Review Act and action by the next president, since the states have until 2018 to file plans. He asked which was the greatest risk and what is being done to counter it. Podesta responded that the administration is "committed to getting this done" and has a year to finalize the rule. At the request of senators, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has extended the comment period from 60 days to 120 days. He expressed confidence that the administration has the votes to keep the rule from being overturned by Congress once it is finalized. He touted the success the EPA has enjoyed in winning court challenges that will undoubtedly occur, as they do with everything the EPA does.

Podesta cited a Washington Post poll showing 70 percent of Americans support curbing carbon pollution across red and blue states. He acknowledged greater challenges in coal-producing states and said, "There's no doubt that the polluters are going to come after this rule" during the 2014 campaign, but supporters can visit children's hospitals to dramatize the need for the rule.

He stated that people who want to deny climate change are on "the losing side of the argument." In response to another question, Podesta said Obama is working with other G-7 leaders to move ahead on the climate change issue looking toward the Paris summit in 2015.

Podesta was asked to comment on a Chamber of Commerce report that an average of 224,000 jobs would be lost each year as a result of the pollution rule for the next 15 or 16 years. The reporter recalled that Podesta had called climate change "an existential issue" and asked whether the administration would even take these costs into account. Podesta countered that the administration has filed views that the rules would have a positive effect on jobs by making industry more efficient in the long term, "so I think that these claims of massive job losses have largely been debunked" and that the Chamber's assumptions "have zero to do with the rule," are "'fantasy' job loss numbers" and that the administration will respond by making investments in affected communities.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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John Podesta, counselor to President Obama, a leading eminence grise who was White House Chief of Staff during the Clinton administration, appeared before reporters at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor on June 6.
Podesta, pollution, climate, EPA
Monday, 16 June 2014 07:58 AM
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