CNN: President Barack Obama made clear on Tuesday that the State Department should approve the Keystone XL pipeline only if it will not increase overall greenhouse gas emissions, and he unveiled a plan for new limits on pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Obama raised the two politically charged issues during an address on second-term environmental priorities that included a plan of executive action, a pledge to lead globally and an appeal for Americans to redouble efforts to combat climate change.
The Georgetown University speech came as environmental constituents and climate change advocates press him to take more aggressive action and to push harder for clean energy alternatives.
Obama said he was taking action for the "sake of our children and the health and safety of all Americans," saying new initiatives on his environmental agenda built around clean-energy industry and policy will spur the economy and leave a cleaner planet for future generations.
"We can do all of that as long as we don't fear the future and instead we seize it," Obama said, adding that his plan was a signal to the world that "America plans to take bold action to reduce carbon pollution.
In 2009, Obama pledged that the United States would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17% of 2005 levels by 2020. Environmentalists have said that decisive action was necessary now to make that goal possible.
Obama again said that U.S. energy strategy must be more than producing more petroleum, mainly for cars and trucks. He again called on eliminating tax breaks for "big oil."
"We can't drill our way out of the energy and climate challenges that we face," he said.
Obama cautioned that the impact of his plan would be felt over time, but now is the moment to further prepare the nation to reduce carbon pollution and protect Americans from climate change.
"The world still looks for the United States to lead," he said, noting that the United States is the world's largest economy and the second-largest carbon emitter.
"We have a vital role to play," he said.
Obama said the United States must use less "dirty energy," waste less, and transition to cleaner energy, and redouble efforts to reach a new global agreement to reduce carbon emissions with "concrete action" that is ambitious, inclusive and flexible.
He said the United States must "strengthen our position" as a natural gas producer, which he said is producing jobs, lowering power bills, and over time would help the country transition to cleaner energy overall, including wind and solar power applications.
On the sensitive prospect of the Canada-to-Texas Keystone pipeline, Obama said it would only come about if its development would be in the nation's best interest.