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Obama: Climate change threatens to ‘wipe out’ American towns

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President Obama redirected attention from his decision to allow Shell to drill a well off the Alaskan coast to the “imminent danger” of climate change in his weekly address Saturday. Ahead of a three-day tour of Alaska, Obama said the northern state’s melting glaciers, swift shoreline erosion and rising sea levels threaten to “swallow one island community.”

“Think about that,” Obama said. “If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we’d do everything in our power to protect ourselves. Climate change poses the same threat, right now.”

Environmentalists are not happy with his decision to allow Shell to drill for oil, Obama acknowledged. But, while America is “transitioning away from dirty energy sources … our economy still has to rely on oil and gas,” Obama said as he introduced his administration’s decision to approve Shell’s application to drill “using leases they purchased before I took office.”

Obama presented his decision as one that will allow the U.S. energy independence, because Arctic drilling will allow more domestic production.

Obama will deliver the closing remarks at an Arctic climate change summit Monday which aims to build broad support for reduced fossil fuel. Even as Obama gives permission for oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, his administration will attempt to convince the world to cut back on carbon emissions at a United Nations global climate conference in December.

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