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President Obama Rolls the Dice in Las Vegas on Climate Change

President Barack Obama hopes the neon lights of the Vegas strip will bring more attention to the issue of climate change.
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President Barack Obama declared "no challenge poses a greater threat to our future than climate change" hoping the backdrop of the neon lights of the Vegas strip will bring more attention to the issue.

Monday night he spoke to a crowd of 1,000 at the National Clean Energy Summit at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, trying to draw attention to an issue he sees as key to his legacy.

In fact, as Senator Harry Reid introduced him, he said the president was "going to be remembered for a lot of things" including being the "leader who finally put the world on a path to stop climate change."

Two other upcoming trips will also focus on the environment: On Thursday the president stops in New Orleans for the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and, next week, Obama will be the first sitting president to visit the Alaskan Arctic.

Taken together, the administration hopes to present a strong backdrop to awaken Americans to an impending crisis.

"In Alaska, glaciers are melting … The state's God-given natural treasures are at risk," President Obama said in a video previewing his Alaska trip.

In Las Vegas, the focus was on energy, where earlier the White House announced executive actions and money from the private sector to help Americans transition to cleaner energy. It includes $1 billion dollars in loan guarantees for innovative technology, improving solar panels, installing solar panels on military housing and helping low-income families become more energy efficient.

Using a Vegas term, the president said "the private sector is increasingly ‘all in,’" as he described how companies like Google, Walmart, Apple and Costco are leading the way in renewable energy.

And, he said, regular folks are looking to get in on the action, too.

"A lot of Americans are doing this, not because they are tree huggers, but because they are cost cutters. They like saving money."

According to the White House, last year the United States brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.

Related: Carbon Pollution From U.S. Power Plants Hits 27-Year Low

Earlier this month, the White House put new rules into place to cut emissions from power plants.

And last year, the president touted an unprecedented agreement with China to cut carbon emissions. The climax could come this December, with the United Nations climate summit in Paris, where nearly 200 nations could pledge to cut carbon emissions.

But President Obama landed in Las Vegas to a scathing editorial in local paper the Review-Journal, which wrote, "The president is advancing his agenda with unconstitutional abandon because the Republican Congress won't pass it."

Some Republicans, like House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are strongly opposed to the president's clean power plan, saying it will destroy jobs.