Using the inauguration speech of his second term, President Obama made his case for climate change and pledged to take action on the issue. The President's comments were hailed by environmentalists who have criticized him for being largely ineffective on the issue throughout his first term.
The President will have several opportunities to address climate change in 2013. Most notably, the State Department must still make a decision on whether to authorize the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Nebraska recently approved a revised route, and the Keystone pipeline is seen as a fight in the battle over climate change as it would pump oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refining operations in Texas.
In the coming months, several other rulemakings are expected from the EPA that will address climate change. Many are expecting the first EPA regulation of greenhouse gas regulations of new power plants will be finalized this spring. In addition, we expect further EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emitters on such sources as existing power plants or methane releases during fracking activities related to oil and natural gas exploration.
The Administration is also expected to push for more clean technology incentives in the form of federal funding opportunities and tax and regulatory incentives. Congress will also play an important role in the climate change debate. In the Senate, Environment & Public Works Committee Chairwoman Boxer (D-CA) hired a new climate change counsel and announced her intent to hold multiple hearings on the subject in 2013. Her first hearing has already been scheduled for February 13.
For its part, the House Energy & Commerce Committee is expected to continue its review of the Clean Air Act and the Renewable Fuel Standard. Finally, there are a number of big-ticket items that will be debated before the 113th Congress which will change public policy and impact the broader climate change discussion — a Farm Bill reauthorization, a Surface Transportation reauthorization and even tax reform.