Group calls for executive order demanding action on climate change

An environmental group is calling on President Obama to regulate climate change by executive action -- even if it means bypassing or overruling Congress.

“There is ample precedent for aggressive use of executive powers by past presidents who believed that … they had a special obligation to protect the public welfare when Congress failed to do so,” the report reads.

The Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) launched in 2007 to call the 44th U.S. President into action, suggesting an executive order that would overrule Congress. On Oct. 1, the group issued its latest annual report, arguing that just as the President can authorize an act of war in an emergency, he could mandate a cap on carbon emissions, approve funds for energy research, and impose environmental standards.

“When the need was great, past presidents have shown that their powers are sufficient to produce historic changes in the course of national and world affairs,” the report concludes.

'There is ample precedent for aggressive use of executive powers.'

— The Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) report

Members of PCAP include many non-profit research companies like Bioneers and EcoAmerica, research institutions like Climate Central, the U.S. Department of Energy, and several universities.

Some experts were quick to blast the group’s plan, calling it “obviously silly.”

"It relies on a poll to show that they have gotten away with convincing a lot of people that 'unusual weather' is a sign of climate change -- despite the fact that 'unusual weather' is always occurring someplace and that there has been no meaningful long period trend,” Richard S. Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences at MIT, told “And from this absurd start, they proceed to suggest that it will be possible to end what is natural by carbon control?”

“Imposing such controls by executive order seems merely designed to prevent the American people from finding out the truth before the policies are implemented," he said. "Obviously, the ... report is silly."

PCAP’s call for an executive order comes with specifics. It asks the president to issue clear criteria for carbon regulations and to reform the tax code and federal regulations to support “a low-carbon rather than a carbon-intensive U.S. economy.”

The report even demands emergency action from the EPA -- power the group may or may not have, said energy expert Jon Koomey, a research fellow at the Steyer Taylor Center for energy policy and finance at Stanford University.

“The EPA has authority under the Clean Air Act to take action against climate change, but there are some limits to what they can do without additional congressional action. Executive orders are also possible, but similarly constrained,” Koomey told

Koomey nonetheless believes that such an executive fiat is a good idea, a way to force what he called justified action in the face of the hothouse effect of greenhouse gases.

“We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rapidly, and the U.S. should lead the way. In the process we'll ignite the next industrial revolution, and the sooner we deploy existing low emissions technologies the sooner we'll be able to scale up and sell them to the rest of the world,” he said.

Even with an executive order, ordinary citizens expressed skepticism that Washington would be able to accomplish anything … period.

“This should have to run through the normal channels of gridlock,” Keith Billings, who sells agricultural in Minnesota, told

Calls to the PCAP were not immediately returned.