WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said Wednesday he will look for ways to control global warming other than placing a ceiling on greenhouse gases.
“Cap-and-trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way,” Obama said at a news conference a day after Democrats lost control of the House. “I’m going to be looking for other means to address this problem.”
Legislation putting a limit on heat-trapping greenhouse gases and then allowing companies to buy and sell pollution permits under that ceiling narrowly passed the House in 2009 as a centerpiece of Obama’s domestic agenda, but then stalled in the Senate.
Republicans dubbed the bill cap-and-tax because it would raise energy prices. They then used it as a club in the midterm elections against Democrats who voted for it. Thirty of the bill’s supporters were among the some 50 House Democrats whom voters turned out of office Tuesday.
“There are a lot of Republicans that ran against the energy bill that passed in the House last year,” Obama said. “And so it’s doubtful that you could get the votes to pass that through the House this year or next year or the year after.”
He said it was important, in whatever solutions are pursued, “not to have us ignore the science, but rather find ways that we can solve these problems that don’t hurt the economy…that in fact may give us opportunities to create entire new industries and create jobs.”
Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has taken steps to reduce greenhouse gases using existing law after a 2007 Supreme Court ruling said it had the authority to treat greenhouse gases as pollutants. Regulations requiring major industrial sources to slash their emissions would take effect early next year, but not before attempts by Congress to block the EPA from taking action.
The Senate in June rejected 53-47 a challenge brought by Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski that would have denied the EPA the authority to move ahead with the rules. Six Democrats voted with Republicans to advance the “resolution of disapproval,” which the White House had threatened to veto. A similar resolution has broad support in the House with 140 co-sponsors.
“I don’t think … the desire is to somehow be protective of their powers here,” Obama said when asked about the EPA’s efforts.
Obama said Wednesday that while the court order gave EPA jurisdiction over greenhouse gases, the EPA wants help from the Congress.
“The smartest thing for us to do is to see if we can get Democrats and Republicans in a room … and seeing are there ways we can make progress in the short term and invest in technologies in the long term that start giving us the tools to reduce greenhouse gases and solve this problem.”