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'Zero' Chance Congress Can Block Obama's Climate Change Regulations, Podesta Says

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, left, and Podesta, center, are working to push through sweeping climate change regulations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The centerpiece of President Barack Obama's second term may be sweeping climate change regulations, and he isn't about to let Congress rein him in.  

White House adviser John Podesta, back at the White House podium, said congressional Republicans will not be able to block the president's climate regulations, despite numerous legislative efforts to do so.  

"Those have zero percent chance of working," Podesta said. "We’re committed. ... There are no takers at this end of Pennsylvania Avenue." Podesta, the former Clinton-era chief of staff, has been known for pushing a more aggressive "pen" approach to executive power rather than waiting on Congress. He did cite the energy efficiency bill sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., that is heading for the Senate floor this week as an example of the kind of action Congress might be able to take on climate this year — if it isn't filibustered first.  

Podesta said climate change is clear, and "we need all hands on deck" to fight it to avoid the most catastrophic effects, with a new national report coming out Tuesday talking about the impact on the United States.  

But Podesta said the United States is on track to meet Obama's goal of a 17 percent cut in emissions from 2005 levels by 2020.  

He also backed the practice of fracking, saying that that it's been mostly positive because natural gas has replaced dirtier fuels.  

He said that the United States is now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas worldwide — and touted the new jobs from the growth in the oil and gas sector, which he attributed to a "practical approach" on the part of the president.  

At the same time, he said, renewable energy has grown dramatically, with solar up 10 times and wind tripling under Obama.  

During the briefing, Podesta also declined to talk about the Keystone XL pipeline — reiterating that he has recused himself from that issue. (The Podesta-founded Center for American Progress is fighting the pipeline.)