Obama: US can’t ‘exempt’ itself from global climate rules

President Obama forcefully told West Point graduates Wednesday that the U.S. must lead on climate change, just days before the administration is expected to announce the cornerstone of his climate legacy.

Obama railed against climate change skeptics, saying they make it harder for nations to cooperate in the fight against global warming.

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"We can’t call on others to make commitments to combat climate change if so many of our political leaders deny that it is taking place," Obama said on Wednesday.

"You see, American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else," he added.

Obama went on to say that "cooperation must energize the global effort to combat climate change."

Using strong rhetoric, Obama called the warming climate a "creeping national security crisis" that will shape the West Point graduates’ time in uniform.

More and more, he said, troops will be called on to respond to "refugee flows, natural disasters, and conflicts over water and food."

"That's why, next year, I intend to make sure America is out front in a global framework to preserve our planet," Obama added, alluding to the United Nations climate change talks in Paris.

The comments come just before the announcement of Obama's climate change regulation, which will be the first rule limiting carbon emissions from existing coal-fired power plants.

Obama has indicated his intent to unveil the rule himself alongside Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy.

McCarthy and a number of administration officials have worked overtime to craft the rule, which will be the strongest show of force on the administration's part in the ongoing battle against climate change.

That also makes it the most contentious rule to date to come forward under Obama's climate agenda. Global leaders will be looking to the rule, as nations ready for the Paris talks.

However, at home, Obama will face an onslaught from Republicans who consider the regulation a "war on coal."