On Earth Day, Podesta pleads for climate change action

White House counselor John Podesta implored people on Tuesday to do their part on Earth Day "to confront the dangers of climate change."

"Our climate is changing, and that change is being driven by human activity," Podesta said on a White House blog Tuesday, warning of "devastating effects on our planet, from higher average global temperatures to sea level rise to more severe weather."

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White House and administration officials plan to fan out across the country on Tuesday, Podesta said, to demonstrate a "commitment to climate action."

"Our health, our economy, our security, and our planet’s future are once again threatened by pollution and environmental degradation," he said.

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moinz and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will lead the White House's push with a trip to Boston for an Earth Day event at the New England Aquarium. McCarthy is also undertaking a media blitz, including an appearance Monday night on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in his home state of Iowa for a Drake University event discussing the impact of climate change on farms and the food supple. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will announce the names of schools across the nation awarded "green ribbons" for their leadership in promoting energy efficiency.

Podesta, a former chief of staff to former President Clinton, returned to the White House in January, as what one senior administration official called "the implementer-in-chief" of the president's climate plan. He has in particular focused on ways the administration can use executive action to combat climate change.

Last month, Obama announced he was designating 1,600 acres of the Mendocino coastline as federal lands — echoing a similar approach taken during Clinton's second term. After Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, Clinton used his executive authorities to implement environmental protections for hundreds of thousands of acres of federal lands.

The White House's environmental push also comes just days after the State Department delayed the review of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, citing ongoing litigation in Nebraska.

On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted the move, panned by Republicans and some red-state Democrats, was not political.

"I know there's a great urge and has always been to make this about politics," Carney said. "But we've see along this process, along the way here, along the route, you know, a series of actions taken in keeping with past practice where the reviews are done out of the State Department."