The Obama administration fueled its push for energy regulations with a massive new report Tuesday linking climate change to extreme weather across the country and warning of more “climate disruption” if the nation doesn’t change its ways.
The National Climate Assessment, four years in the making, gave a region-by-region breakdown of how climate change is impacting the United States — in the form of droughts, heat waves and increasingly intense hurricanes, according to the report.
“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the 840-page report states. “Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington state and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience.”
The report predicts that the weather-related repercussions of climate change “are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond.”
The report, though, quickly came under fire from Republicans, who said the administration would use it to muscle through job-killing regulations.
“Instead of making the environment drastically better, the president’s strategy will make the climate for unemployed Americans even worse,” Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said in a statement. “The American people have made it clear that they want Washington to focus on the economy and make it easier for them to find good jobs. Once again, President Obama is completely ignoring their concerns — and doubling down today on extreme regulations that will put more Americans out of work.”
In a counterpoint of sorts to the report, Barrasso and other congressional Republicans representing western states released their own findings later Tuesday morning highlighting state efforts to protect the environment. The report highlights local air and water policies, and criticizes “one-size-fits-all” regulations it accuses the administration of imposing.
The administration’s latest report comes as the administration battles congressional Republicans over its climate agenda. A day earlier, White House counselor John Podesta warned that attempts by congressional lawmakers to block the administration’s climate action plan will fail.
Podesta told reporters during a briefing at the White House that President Obama is committed to moving forward with controversial Clean Air Act regulations to cut carbon dioxide emissions for all new coal and gas-fired power plants.
Republicans have branded the president’s climate plan as a “war on coal” and have sponsored legislation to roll back planned Environmental Protection Agency greenhouse gas standards they argue will harm the nation’s economy.
“They’ll find various ways, particularly in the House, to try to stop us from using the authority we have under the Clean Air Act. All I would say is that those have zero percent chance of working. We’re committed to moving forward with those rules,” Podesta said.
The report also comes as the administration delays a decision on the controversial Canada-to-Texas Keystone pipeline. Environmentalists oppose it, but Republicans and some Democrats are pressuring the administration to approve it.
The climate report looked at regional and state-level effects of global warming, compared with recent reports from the United Nations that lumped all of North America together. A draft of the report was released in January 2013, but this version has been reviewed by more scientists, the National Academy of Science and 13 government agencies and had public comment.
Even though the nation’s average temperature has risen by as much as 1.9 degrees since record keeping began in 1895, it’s in the big, wild weather where the average person feels climate change the most, said co-author Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech University climate scientist. Extreme weather like droughts, storms and heat waves hit us in the pocketbooks and can be seen by our own eyes, she said.
And it’s happening a lot more often lately.
The report says the intensity, frequency and duration of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes have increased since the early 1980s, but it is still uncertain how much of that is from man-made warming. Winter storms have increased in frequency and intensity and shifted northward since the 1950s, it says. Also, heavy downpours are increasing — by 71 percent in the Northeast. Heat waves, such as those in Texas in 2011 and the Midwest in 2012, are projected to intensify nationwide. Droughts in the Southwest are expected to get stronger. Sea level has risen 8 inches since 1880 and is projected to rise between 1 foot and 4 feet by 2100.
FoxNews.com / The Associated Press contributed to this report.