Friday February 15, 2013 | 10:04 AM

WASHINGTON – Several hundred Mainers are expected to join tens of thousands of other activists on Sunday for what is being billed as the largest climate change rally in history.

More than 160 organizations from across the country are involved in the Forward on Climate rally, which will take place on the National Mall. Participants will then march from the Washington Monument to the White House in an effort to pressure President Obama to take action on climate change and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Locally, the Sierra Club Maine, the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Environment Maine – among others – are organizing groups to go to Washington.

Much to the chagrin of environmental activists and some left-leaning Democrats, the Obama administration did not push for major climate change legislation during the president's first term and the issue was rarely mentioned on the 2012 campaign trail.

But the president has talked about the need for action on global warming in both his inaugural address in January and this week’s State of the Union address, signaling a major shift.

“I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago,” Obama said Tuesday night. “But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.  I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take – now and in the future – to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Any attempt at major climate change legislation in Congress – such as a national tax on carbon dioxide emissions or a federal cap-and-trade system – are guaranteed to encounter ardent opposition. Critics will predict that any national approach will hurt the economy and cost jobs, while others will question the effectiveness of such strategies as well as the underlying science that says the climate is warming.

Much of Sunday’s event will focus on urging the Obama administration to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canadian tar sands to refineries in Texas. The president delayed a decision on the issue last year but is under intense pressure from supporters of the massive project to approve it.

 

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or kmiller@mainetoday.com

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