Climate Fight Heats Up

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • 'A PLANET THAT'S BEYOND FIXING': ABC's CHRIS GOOD reports that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to roll out carbon-emission caps today for newly built power plants, a move Republicans have staunchly opposed since the George W. Bush administration. In his weekly address over the weekend, Obama made the case for why the EPA should regulate carbon emissions, a contentious matter that's been the subject of two major Supreme Court cases. Speaking from the Children's National Medical Center in Washington D.C., where he spent Friday visiting children who suffer from asthma, the president suggested that regulating emissions was a public health measure. "As president, and as a parent, I refuse to condemn our children to a planet that's beyond fixing," Obama said. "Right now, there are no national limits to the amount of carbon pollution that existing plants can pump into the air we breathe. None."
  • THE DEETS: According to ABC's DEVIN DWYER : Two people briefed on the new proposed EPA regulations confirm to ABC News the top line target of a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants from 2005 levels by 2030. If it withstands legal and political scrutiny, this will be the most significant step ever taken by the US government to tackle climate change and what scientists say is the leading contributor: pollution from coal plants. It's the first time restrictions will be imposed on currently-operating plants in this country - some 600 of them.
  • HAPPENING TODAY: The marquee event of the day happens this morning when Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will formally unveil the new proposed rules for carbon emissions. This afternoon President Obama will host a conference call with public health groups about the impacts of the rules.


ABC's RICK KLEIN: The prisoner swap that won the release of Bowe Bergdahl raises a policy debate, plus a very real operational one about whether the terms were worth it to the United States. But on the law, President Obama violated a clear legal requirement - included in a December 2013 law - to notify Congress of releases from Guantanamo Bay "not later than 30 days before the transfer or release of the individual." That's the law Obama signed. But, of course, he added a signing statement saying he disagreed with that part of the law, so he could maintain "the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers." Leaving aside the fact that the Taliban is not one of those "foreign countries," that's what happened here. This is precisely where signing statements matter. Echoing somewhere still is what candidate Obama said of President Bush's use of signing statements, back in 2008: "I believe in the Constitution, and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We're not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end-run around Congress."

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The country is waiting for Hillary Clinton's book "Hard Choices" out next week and any news that may come out of the memoir of her time at the State Department. Thanks to Politico we have seen the one chapter on Benghazi, but now America Rising, the Republican opposition research group, is coming out with their own e-book with their take on Clinton's time at the State Department. Called "Failed Choices," the book will be on sale this week and is just part of their effort to provide a pre-buttal to Clinton's highly anticipated book, book tour, and possible 2016 presidential campaign. According to a sneak peak also in Politico, the first chapter teases how many countries Clinton has mentioned visiting: 112, but, the Benghazi response is likely to be the most widely read. Clinton has said she wants to stay away from the politics around the deaths of four Americans in the Benghazi attacks so don't expect a back and forth directly with Clinton. But, she will have a tour and war room that will look much more like a presidential campaign than a traditional book tour so these attacks will likely not go unanswered.


-NEW AD IN RHODE ISLAND GOVERNOR'S RACE: Cranston, R.I. Mayor Allan Fung, a Republican candidate for governor, has unveiled a new campaign ad today attacking his primary opponent, Ken Block. The message, according to the Fung campaign: "Block's own words and actions reveal strong progressive and anti-Republican leanings, which already have alienated many Rhode Island Republicans and should be considered carefully by all Republican Primary Election voters."

-ELIZABETH WARREN, THOMAS PIKETTY TALK INEQUALITY: Tongiht, MoveOn members will gather across the country to watch a conversation between Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and economist Thomas Piketty about the challenge of economic inequality in America. The conversation was recorded Saturday at Boston's historic Old South Meeting House and moderated by Ryan Grim of the Huffington Post. As part of the dialogue, Warren and Piketty responded to questions from MoveOn members. The video dialogue can be viewed at 8:30 PM Eastern:

-SCOTT BROWN KICKS OFF ENERGY TOUR: New Hampshire GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown will kick off his "Making Energy Affordable" tour today. As his first stop of the week, Brown will visit the Waterhouse Country Store, a gas station in Windham, to discuss the negative impacts of rising gas prices with motorists. Brown's campaign has also release a white paper on his plan for affordable energy.


MEET SLOAN GIBSON, THE VA'S NEW INTERIM LEADER. With the resignation of Gen. Eric Shinseki as Veterans Affairs Administration secretary on Friday, President Obama announced that Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson will head the sprawling veterans' bureaucracy until a new secretary is nominated, ABC's CHRIS GOOD notes. Gibson is a West Point graduate and former banker who formerly headed the United Services Organizations (USO). He has made no headlines during his time at the VA, coming into the new role virtually unknown to the broader public. Gibson graduated from West Point in 1975, earning both Airborne and Ranger qualifications, and then served as an infantry officer in the Army, according to his VA bio page. He went on to a 20-year banking career in Charlotte, Atlanta, Nashville, and Birmingham, retiring in 2004 from AmSouth, a small bank that began in Birmingham and expanded in the South in the 1980s and early 1990s, and again in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Gibson served as its chief financial officer.

SUSAN RICE CITES 'SACRED OBLIGATION' IN MAKING DEAL FOR BERGDAHL'S FREEDOM. President Obama stuck to a "sacred obligation" when he agreed to a deal with the Taliban to release five prisoners held by at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the freedom of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice said Sunday. "This is a very special situation. Sergeant Bergdahl wasn't simply a hostage, he was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield. We have a sacred obligation that we have upheld since the founding of our Republic to do our utmost to bring back our men and women who were taken in battle. And we did that in this instance," Rice told ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS Sunday on "This Week" in a rare Sunday interview. On Saturday, the president confirmed that Bergdahl, held for nearly five years, was in U.S. custody after a deal was struck with the Taliban with the help of Qatar - an ally of the United States - to release him. Qatar agreed to take the five men into custody and they will be banned from travel for a year.

WHAT THE U.S. GAVE UP TO GET BERGDAHL BACK. What exactly did the U.S. give up to get Bergdahl back? The U.S. has released five Taliban prisoners kept at Guantanamo Bay - all of them either senior Taliban figures or Taliban officials with connections to Taliban leaders, and all labeled by the Pentagon as highly dangerous to the security of the U.S. and its allies if released, ABC's CHRIS GOOD notes. It's not entirely clear what freedom of movement and communication these now-former detainees will enjoy. The exchange had been discussed previously, and an opportunity to pursue it arose this week, U.S. administration officials said. It was facilitated by Qatar and its emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, with whom Obama said he has spoken. READ MORE:

TED CRUZ SAYS HILLARY CLINTON 'DELIBERATELY STONEWALLED' ON BENGHAZI. Tea party heavyweight Sen. Ted Cruz said that he believes former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton purposely prevented the public release of details pertaining to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to ABC's ALISA WIERSEMA. "What I think is that she has deliberately stonewalled," Cruz said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week." "The American people deserve the truth; our men and women in harm's way deserve the truth," the Texas Republican added. Although Cruz did not directly say that he believes Clinton's handling of Benghazi should disqualify her from running for president, he had a quick response to Stephanopoulos when asked for the case against a Hillary Clinton presidency. The senator pointedly tied Clinton to what he said were the failures of the Obama administration, referring to an "Obama-Clinton" foreign policy and saying that the low labor-force participation rate under Obama is a reason not to vote for Hillary.


@SenJohnMcCain: Must-read @WSJ: "Trading with the Taliban" …

@politico: Since becoming President, Obama has skipped a few states.

@cmarinucci: Over the top? Indian leaders outraged w/ "racially coded" attack on @RoKhannaUSA in Silicon Valley #CA17 House race

@Messina2012: Fact of the Day: 47% of Americans live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution. #ActOnClimate

@nationaljournal: The return of Romney