Sessions: Obama ‘Beyond the Breaking Point’ with Executive Action

February 13, 2013
By Fred Lucas

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) (AP Photo)

( – Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) says President Barack Obama’s plan to take executive action on climate change worries him.

“This president has already, in my opinion, pushed the envelope beyond the breaking point on executive orders, unilateral actions, actions that Congress has specifically, openly rejected,” Sessions told shortly after Obama delivered the State of the Union address.

“He then puts his bureaucrats to work to figure out every way possible through their regulations, through their enforcement policies, to place the country under the direction he wants it to go under his rule. That’s not consistent with American history and democracy. I think it’s dangerous and we need to work at it.”

During his speech Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress, Obama brought up climate change.

“For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change,” Obama said. “Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods -- all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science -- and act before it’s too late.”

Obama urged Congress to “get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago.” The McCain-Lieberman bill was a cap-and-trade plan.Obama said if Congress “won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said he supports Obama’s proposed executive action: “The president made a brief statement in the State of the Union that climate change is a challenge we must face,” Coons told “The piece of it I remember most clearly was a challenge for us to double how energy efficient our homes and buildings are. I do think energy efficiency is something that is smart and makes bottom line sense, regardless of your reason or motivation for doing so.”

Coons noted that he co-sponsored a Senate bill to make buildings and homes more energy efficient in part through Energy Department loans and by requiring the federal government to adopt energy efficiency standards for computers and buildings.

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said President Obama has “a box full of tools” to address “climate chaos.”

“The best tool he has is the Clean Air Act,” Beinecke said. “It gives him the authority to reduce the carbon pollution from our dirtiest power plants, the single greatest threat to our climate future. That will take presidential leadership. Americans are counting on it —and that’s what the president delivered tonight.”

The NRDC says a 21st century economy can’t be powered with “fossil fuels of the past.”

“We must invest, as a nation, in the next generation of clean power plants. We must develop energy-efficient cars, workplaces and homes. And we must expand our use of renewable energy.”

Sessions: Obama