Obama’s Climate Change Efforts

     While I wish President Obama had made climate change his first legislative priority, instead of health care, he nonetheless has publicly committed to making progress to address climate change.  And he has taken some significant steps in the right direction.   Since most of Obama’s efforts in this area have gone largely unnoticed, I am highlighting some of them here:

  • Obama’s 2011 budget request includes significant increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy programs at the federal Departments of Energy, Interior, and Agriculture.
  • The Administration is raising vehicle efficiency standards to historic levels.  Most notable are the first national emissions and efficiency standards for heavy vehicles.
  • The Administration is reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s largest energy consumer, the federal government. 
  • The Administration is moving forward on greater renewable energy production on public lands.
  • Having determined that climate change is a threat to public health and welfare, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is about to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters.
  • EPA is toughening its regulation of environmental impacts from fossil energy industries, such as the impacts of mountain top removal coal mining in Appalachia.
  • A presidential task force has been working for more than a year to frame a national strategy for climate adaptation.
  • Another presidential task force is developing national policy for protecting our oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has incorporated the effects of climate change on wildlife into the grants it makes for protecting endangered species.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy has cleared its backlog of new appliance efficiency standards, an achievement expected to save the public billions of dollars over the next 30 years.
  • The Administration has created a strategic plan for high-speed rail in America.
  • The Administration included more than $80 billion in green investments in the stimulus package, making it the largest piece of energy legislation in U.S. history.
  • President Obama has directed nine federal agencies to expedite construction of transmission lines on public lands to help distribute renewable energy.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Nature Conservancy are working to protect coral reefs from climate-related damage in the Caribbean, Florida, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands.
  • The Federal Trade Commission has issued new guidelines on truth in green labeling.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued guidance on how publicly traded companies should report climate risks.
  • EPA and the Department of Transportation are revising fuel-economy labeling for cars and light trucks to show each vehicle’s carbon emissions profile.
  • EPA requires 10,000 of the nation’s largest carbon emitters, as well as federal agencies, to publicly report their emissions.
  • The Administration is working on a requirement that climate impacts must be considered in environmental assessments of federally funded projects.
  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an order to improve federal water policies to deal with climate change, population growth, and other pressures on freshwater supplies.
  • NOAA created a new office to improve climate change information for local governments, academia, and industry.
  • Just weeks ago the military equipped a field encampment of Marines in Afghanistan with fold-up solar panels, energy-efficient lights, solar chargers for phones and computers, and solar tent shields that provide both shade and power for tents.
  • The Navy recently introduced its first hybrid vessel, the USS Makin Island.  On its first voyage, from Mississippi to San Diego, the ship used 900,000 gallons less fuel than a traditional vessel.
  • The Air Force is slated to operate its entire fleet on biofuels by next year.
  • The Administration has negotiated agreements to collaborate on carbon sequestration and clean energy technologies with Canada, Mexico, China, and India.

     All of the above actions are helpful steps in addressing climate change.  But it cannot be denied that they are extremely modest.  Taken together, they account for about 70% of Obama’s goal to reduce U.S. carbon emissions by a mere 3% by 2020, according to Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project.  Still, “Obama and his team have made more progress on this issue in 22 months than all his predecessors managed since Lyndon Johnson was warned about climate change by his science advisors in the 1960s,” writes Becker.  And he’s done it at the same time he’s wrestled with his immediate predecessor’s debilitating legacy of red ink, the Great Recession, Wall Street scandals, the housing crisis, the collapse of some of the nation’s biggest companies, and two wars.”

     The above list of the Obama administration’s accomplishments on global warming come from Bill Becker.–April Moore

5 Responses to “Obama’s Climate Change Efforts”

  1. Diane Artz Furlong Says:

    Thanks for bringing this information together, April. It is good to know. I’m going to share it on my FB page.

  2. Jim Z. Says:

    A very impressive list.

  3. Joan Kelly Says:

    I’m very much afraid the GOP will be up in arms to thwart any and all of this. Makes me weep.

  4. April Says:

    Me too. And scream.

  5. Dusky Pierce Says:

    I greatly appreciate this article. When I get discourage about the nation politically or about Obama policies that sometime seem tepid or cowardly, I try to console myself by knowing that all kinds of smaller, less publicized things are unfolding by good people all over the government thanks to his appointments. This is a concrete example of that. I’ll pass it along to like-minded friends.

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