A year ago, President Obama spoke about climate change in the State of the Union address. It made environmentalists a little happier for a while when he said, “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”
The National Geographic offers a review of the past year’s worth of Obama’s actions & inactions on climate. They note, for example, that us tree-huggers are disappointed by, well, almost everything.
True enough. “All of the above” doesn’t cut it as an energy policy when your adversary is the laws of physics and chemistry. Not when we’re discovering more and more of the damage fossil fuels can cause above, on, and below the surface of the Earth. By promoting oil, coal, and natural gas with as much or more vigor as he’s given to wind, solar and geothermal energy sources, the President has perpetuated the business-as-usual model that is pushing our civilization into a slow-mo catastrophe.he has promoted solar and wind power and electric cars.
A number of major environmental groups sent a joint letter, saying (among other things) that:
“…a climate impact lens should be applied to all decisions regarding new fossil fuel development, and urge that a ‘carbon-reducing clean energy’ strategy, rather than an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy become the operative paradigm for your administration’s energy decisions.” The letter drew a rebuke from White House environmental advisor John Podesta, who pointed out that the President faces unbelievable opposition in congress from the nincompoop caucus. “President Obama understands that climate change poses a significant threat to our environment, to public health, and to our economy. He believes it is imperative that we act to address these threats, and that doing so provides the United States and opportunity to lead in the development and deployment of clean energy technologies needed to reduce emissions.”
The new and very stringent rules on carbon emissions from new electrical generation plants are a step in the right direction, although what’s really needed is to price coal and oil out of the market entirely. We are still waiting for the regulations to be applied to older plants, some of which are facing decommissioning.
“The more difficult issue is what to do about the nearly 600 existing U.S. coal plants, which provide about 40 percent of the nation’s electricity.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to unveil its plan for old fossil fuel plants in June, after more than a year of working on the issue with states, industry groups, and environmentalists.
Delivering on that will be very important for the president, said Ned Helme, president of the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Center on Clean Air Policy. Helme argues that Obama “can do it in a way that’s very beneficial from an economic standpoint” by providing flexibility that is sensitive to regional differences across America.
The agency has hinted it will not require carbon capture, but that it may force many of the oldest generating stations to close down.”
“One of the few energy specifics Obama floated in his 2013 State of the Union speech was the creation of an Energy Security Trust, which over the next decade would steer $2 billion in oil and natural gas royalties to fund research into biofuels, fuel cells, and advanced batteries.”
But apparently, the project has yet to take off:
“Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the administration was awaiting congressional action, but several key Republicans, including Murkowski and Republican Representative Doc Hastings of Washington, whose House committee oversees offshore drilling, say they hadn’t been contacted by the White House.”
There’s a lot more at the link. The problem we face as a civilization is that our survival as a species demands the kind of action that our political system is completely unable to deliver.