WH 'absolutely' behind climate talkathon

The White House said Monday it "absolutely" supported plans by Senate Democrats to hold an all-night "talkathon" intended to highlight the impacts of climate change.

"We commend those who are participating because it's a very important subject that the president, as you know, is concerned about and has a climate action plan dedicated to addressing," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

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The White House spokesman said it was important to "focus attention on the challenges posed by climate change and the impacts that climate change is having on our environment and on our ability to respond to emergencies."

Monday night’s event, to be held by the Senate Climate Action Task Force, is expected to draw 28 Senate Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Sens. Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.).

The senators aren't highlighting a piece of legislation and the event will not function as a filibuster to prevent a bill from moving forward, but lawmakers nevertheless say the talkathon could "wake up" colleagues still skeptical about climate change science.

"The purpose is to use the bully pulpit of our Senate offices to achieve that wake-up call," Boxer said in a statement. "We believe that climate change is a catastrophe that is unfolding before our eyes, and we want Congress to take off the blindfolds."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested the all-nighter might not accomplish that in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer on Friday.

"For everybody who thinks it's warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn't," he said.

Carney on Monday also highlighted instances from the president's Climate Action Plan where Obama had used regulatory authority to act to address climate change where Congress had not.

"He has taken steps in his first term and again in his second term and will continue to take steps to both reduce our carbon emissions and to make sure that we're more prepared for the effects and impacts of severe weather, for example, which is a byproduct of the climate change that we've seen," Carney said.

On Tuesday, Obama is expected to designate a 1,665-acre nature preserve in California known as Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as a national monument. The move, which will impose new land-use restrictions on the area in a bid to protect several fish species and birds, is among a series of second-term executive actions to address environmental concerns.