Last month, Washington's top environment advocate went to the Cleveland Clinic to talk about how President Barack Obama's landmark efforts to crack down on power-plant carbon emissions would ease a range of respiratory illnesses.
Speaking separately to historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta in April, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy also framed proposed new rules in terms of social justice, as poor black communities are disproportionately affected by air pollution.
The meetings, and hundreds more like them over the past year, mark an unprecedented campaign by the White House and the EPA to win broad public and state backing for rules expected to come June 2 to limit for the first time carbon emissions from power plants, which are the biggest source of greenhouse gases.
Both the message and the method reflect a conscious effort to avoid the problems that two years ago nearly sank Obama's health care reform, another contentious policy milestone that will become an indelible part of his legacy, according to officials and sources familiar with the process.
The proposed curbs will form the cornerstone of Obama's climate action plan, a multi-layered blueprint for fighting global warming unveiled a year ago. The plan is critical to fulfilling U.S. commitments to reduce emissions agreed to at an international forum in Copenhagen in 2009.