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Podesta: Climate report will inspire 'political action'

A new report showing that human-driven climate change is having profound impacts all across the country will inspire "political action," White House counselor John Podesta predicted Tuesday.

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"I think this is the most comprehensive, authoritative report on the climate's impact on the United States, and I think it's actionable science," Podesta said during an interview with MSNBC. "I think it will help people understand really what's happening in every region of the country, and that, I think, will lead to political action."

The report concludes that climate change has lengthened summers, warmed winters, intensified rain storms, and endangered the food supply. President Obama will highlight the findings during a series of interviews with local television meteorologists Tuesday at the White House, and Podesta and other administration officials — including EPA administrator Gina McCarthy — are fanning out to promote the findings.

Podesta said the report reenforced "there's a lot of action to take" and said that the administration itself had "the capacity to do a lot in this area."

"We're going to move forward with rules to regulate the emissions that are coming from existing power plants that will have health benefits for the public across the country, a proposal for that will be coming forward in June," Podesta said.

But the former Clinton chief of staff also said it would be "helpful if Congress moved forward" on environmental priorities, including a Senate energy efficiency bill up this week.

But pressed on some of the more controversial questions in environmental policy, the top presidential adviser sidestepped. Asked if President Obama still believed in "clean coal," Podesta simply noted that the administration continued to invest in carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

"I think that's an important investment in the future, in research and development," Podesta said, noting spiking coal use in China and India.

Podesta also bristled at inquiries over the Keystone XL pipeline, questioning why MSNBC host Chuck Todd repeatedly said he had recused himself from "lobbying" President Obama over the controversial construction project. He reiterated that he thought it would be unfair to advise Obama on the project since his opposition was widely known.

"The president knows my views on Keystone," Podesta said. "Again, I think people would have questioned my impartiality, but my views are well known on Keystone."