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FRONTLINE/World,Carbon Watch

What Happened to U.S. Climate Policy?

Climate Watch Blog

January 27, 2010

In this month's Rolling Stone, Jeff Goodell reports on President Obama's rough ride to Copenhagen and the forces behind "one of the most aggressive campaigns in history" to block political progress on tackling climate change.

Goodell will be on Fresh Air Thursday with FRONTLINE and CIR correspondent, Mark Schapiro. Both will be talking about what's behind the current political stalemate and some of the problems with the legislation itself.

Here's an excerpt from Goodell's story on the Democrats' early promise of climate action.

Obama's first moves on the climate front were encouraging. He appointed Carol Browner, head of the EPA under Bill Clinton and a close confidante of Al Gore, as "climate czar," and he named Steven Chu, a respected scientist who understood the need to confront global warming, as energy secretary. A month after taking office, he also moved to implement a 2007 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court empowering the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. The threat to Big Coal and Big Oil was implicit: If energy interests balked at working with Congress to create a new system to curb carbon pollution, the administration would simply unleash federal regulators. "If Congress does nothing," warned Sen. Barbara Boxer, who was spearheading climate legislation as chair of the Senate environment committee, "we will be watching EPA do our job."