President Barack Obama launched a show of support Friday for new emissions rules for power plants, putting the weight of the White House behind the government’s controversial strategy for combating “climate change.”

Three days before his administration is set to unveil the first carbon dioxide limits on existing plants, Obama paid a surprise visit to a children’s hospital and met with young asthma patients, hoping to call attention to the health effects of air pollution. He also talked up the need to curb carbon pollution during a hurricane preparedness briefing at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters.

“The changes we’re seeing in our climate means that, unfortunately, storms like Sandy could end up being more common and more devastating,” Obama said, invoking the deadly 2012 superstorm that’s become a rallying cry for climate activists.

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