Enviros call on Obama to defend climate rules in State of the Union

Lawmakers are also eager to hear what Obama says in his State of the Union address on energy and the environment. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said Thursday that he hopes the president will lay out a plan for lowering gas prices, which have reached a two-year high.

“We need to figure out where things are headed and what can we do to create some supply to put some downward pressure on the gas price,” Upton told reporters Thursday. “I think if he fails to talk about gas prices he’s ignoring a problem that looms pretty large.”

But Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the committee, said what Obama does on energy is more important than what he says in his State of the Union address.

“It’s not what he says in his speech that makes a difference, but what he does as president and the positions he takes,” Waxman said.

Here’s the full environmentalist letter and the list of signatories:

January 20, 2011
The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We are writing to you about the Clean Air Act, a remarkably successful public health law that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives over the last 40 years while our economy has tripled in size.  Our organizations cannot overstate the priority we put on preventing efforts to block, weaken or delay implementation of this vital law, which at every stage in its history has garnered overwhelming bipartisan support.  We urge you to use your upcoming State of the Union address to underscore the critical need for the Clean Air Act’s sensible safeguards and to oppose any attempt to block, weaken, or delay its continued implementation. 
As you know, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun to roll out long-overdue safeguards to reduce carbon, mercury, and other life-threatening pollution from big sources that have been allowed to dump unlimited amounts of pollution into our air for far too long. These clean air safeguards will save tens of thousands more lives, prevent millions of illnesses, and reduce health care costs, while spurring innovation and job growth.  Their health benefits will vastly outweigh their costs. 
Unfortunately, the nation’s biggest polluters and some members of Congress have launched an unprecedented attack on the Clean Air Act.  Your recent Wall Street Journal op-ed emphasized your administration’s achievements under the Clean Air Act.  In order to build on those achievements, the EPA must retain its authority to hold polluters accountable and continue moving forward to implement all of these much-needed safeguards. 
You have demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting public health and bringing about a clean energy economy throughout your presidency.  Your upcoming State of the Union address offers a perfect opportunity to renew that commitment by making clear that you will continue to stand with the public -- not polluters -- and do everything in your power to ensure that the EPA retains the authority and the resources to take the life-saving actions necessary to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. 
Liz Butler, Campaign Director
Rebecca Wodder, President
American Rivers
John D. Podesta, President and CEO
Center for American Progress
John Kassel, President
Conservation Law Foundation
Bob Wendelgass, President and CEO
Clean Water Action
Rodger Schlickeisen, President and CEO
Defenders of Wildlife
Trip Van Noppen, President
Margie Alt, Executive Director
Environment America
Fred Krupp, President
Environmental Defense Fund
Erich Pica, President
Friends of the Earth
Phil Radford, Executive Director
Gene Karpinski, President
League of Conservation Voters
David Yarnold, President and CEO
National Audubon Society
Thomas C. Kiernan, President
National Parks Conservation Association
Larry Schweiger, President and CEO
National Wildlife Federation
Frances Beinecke, President
Natural Resources Defense Council
Andrew Sharpless, Chief Executive Officer
Joshua Reichert, Managing Director
Pew Environment Group
Michael Brune, Executive Director
Sierra Club
William Meadows, President
The Wilderness Society
Kevin Knobloch, President
Union of Concerned Scientists
Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
U.S. Climate Action Network
Carter Roberts, President and CEO
World Wildlife Fund