State of the Union: Obama doubles down to fight climate change
President Obama’s State of the Union speech at the White House Tuesday didn’t hold many surprises, but it was encouraging for environmentalists to hear the one snippet that renewed his commitment to fight climate change and it started with a similar line he used in his inaugural address:
For the sake of our children’s future we must do more to combat climate change.
The president went on to say that China is already going all-out to increase wind and solar manufacturing. He said the US should make permanent tax credits for renewable energy businesses to help double the production of wind, solar and geothermal products over the next decade.
According to CNN’s live coverage, Obama called for the states to conserve energy and cut waste through a federal grant program. He suggested directing Cabinet secretaries to find new executive ways to deal with climate change. The president also urged Congress to enact laws that incentivize polluters to reign in carbon gas emissions.
The Republican response to Obama’s climate change commitment was barely tepid, since most don’t believe global warming is real or that human activity is the unequivocal cause. Nonetheless, jobs created by clean energy manufacturing should not be given the cold shoulder by Congressional voices that are always clamoring for more jobs creation.
In addition, Republicans shouldn’t turn their back on what’s popular with the American people and a bipartisan majority supports laws that would put a tax penalty on excessive carbon pollution.
In a recent Friends of the Earth poll it found that on the carbon tax, 93 percent of the Democrat respondents supported it, and a whopping 66 percent of Republican respondents supported it:
- Voters overwhelmingly prefer it to cutting spending. When presented with two options for reducing the deficit — a carbon tax on “big polluters such as oil, gas and other companies,” versus spending cuts for “programs like education, Social Security, Medicare and environmental protection” — 67 percent favored the carbon tax. 59 percent favored it “strongly.”
- Voters support it regardless of how it’s used. If revenue from the carbon tax is used to close the budget deficit, 70 percent favored a carbon tax, with 51 percent favoring it “strongly.” If revenue was to both shore up the budget and invest in clean energy jobs and programs to fight climate change, 72 percent favored the tax, with 54 percent in the “strongly” camp.
- Voters support it even after hearing the counterarguments. After being presented with suggestions that “this is the wrong time to pass a new tax on every business and consumer in America,” that consumers will pay higher prices for gas and groceries and that it might even fail to reduce emissions, over two-thirds of voters still favored the carbon tax — and once again, most who favored it did so “strongly.”
There are a number of things Obama can do without Congressional action under the Clean Air Act that enables the Environmental Protection Agency to pursue reduction of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) and lower emissions from power plants and natural gas systems.
The most immediate and most important decision facing the Obama administration is the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. The extraction process for removing useable crude from dirty tar sands is one of the most polluting, water-wasting and unhealthy methods on Earth. Climate hawk and new Secretary of State John Kerry has vowed to oversee the keystone environmental review very carefully.
A massive climate rally is going to converge on the steps of the White House on President’s Day weekend starting Sunday, Feb. 17 at noon. The rally is dubbed Forward on Climate and thousands will show up to support the president and to oppose the keystone pipeline.
For more information on the Forward on Climate rally click here.
Jean Williams, environmental and political journalist; PrairieDogPress writer; Artistic Director, Keystone Prairie Dogs.***PrairieDogPress is the media channel for keystone-prairie-dogs.com, which is a fundraising website to support environmental groups for extraordinary efforts to protect Great Plains habitat and prairie dogs in the wild. PDP uses humorous images, social commentary and serious-minded political reports to challenge government on numerous levels, including accountability to the people, the protection of threatened species, the environment and Earth’s natural resources.