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Obama Renews Promise to Tackle Climate Change

by Brandon Fallon, published


In his second inaugural address, Obama again brought up the divisive issue of climate change and how it has been at the center of the overwhelming storms in recent years.

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

Obama went on to lay out the goal for the next four years and beyond:

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise.”

The objective is to capitalize on the new advances in green technology and use sustainable energy as a way to bolster the nation’s infrastructure and economy through job creation. The president wishes America will be a pioneer in this industry. Tweet

The alternative will be the continued reliance on oil and to import green technology from other countries like China and India.

In the simplest sense of the word, the world is undergoing climate change. The debate is whether or not it is normal changes or brought on by greenhouse gases from man made industries. According to NASA, the first decade in the 21st century has been the warmest since these measurements started being recorded. Tweet stat: Tweet

The issue was not discussed as heavily in the election as the economy, but in post-Sandy New York City, climate change was at the center of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's endorsement for Obama.

With staunch opposition from the likes of the Koch brothers, the billionaires who deny climate change is real, and congressional Republicans, Obama has not entirely fulfilled his 2008 campaign promise to take charge of the issue.

“No single issue sits at the crossroads of as many currents as energy. Our dependence on oil and gas funds terror and tyranny; it has forced families to pay their wages at the pump; and it puts the future of our planet in peril. This is a security threat, an economic albatross, and a moral challenge of our time. The time to debate whether climate change is man made has past – it’s time, finally, for America to lead.” Tweet quote: Tweet

The first two years of Obama’s presidency were dominated by a Democratic-controlled Senate and House. Then, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was a pivotal force in passing the nation’s first carbon cap and trade legislation through the House. In a sign of how dividing the issue is, the Senate failed to pass the bill. The progressive left took that as a sign that Obama failed in one of his first major campaign promises.

Another obstacle Obama faced from Republicans was the Keystone XL pipeline. The president gained favor from environmentalists when he declined permission for a Canadian oil company to build a pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico. The decision rested under the jurisdiction of the executive branch, specifically the State Department, and therefore did not require Congress to act.

The issue was postponed until after the election and now Obama can either reaffirm his decision or allow the construction to begin. Trans-Canada has made changes to overcome the administration's objections.

Another point of attack Republicans have used against Obama was the Solyndra scandal.

The Department of Energy (DoE) has become more selective regarding guaranteeing loans ever since the Solyndra controversy. In January 2013, the DoE began an active review for a wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts called Cape Wind.

The company behind Cape Wind requested a substantial loan guarantee, but will likely receive much less. Cape Wind is the nation’s first offshore wind farm with 130 turbines and is expected to generate 468 MWe.

Along with wind and solar power, the DoE has also included bio-fuel to their renewable energy portfolio. By granting bio-fuel development company Agrivida a $4.5 million loan from ARPA-E -- the DoE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency -- the Obama Administration plans on decreasing the cost of domestic bio-fuel while making it a more suitable substitute to imported oil. Tweet

The political environment in Washington over the past four years has been highlighted by gridlock between Obama and congressional Republicans.

One of the areas they constantly clashed over was climate change. Republicans have come up with their partisan complaints; wasteful spending behind Solyndra, the job-destroying decision to deny the Keystone XL pipeline, and the infamous cap and trade that would have increased government regulation and consumer energy bills alike. If the country is to lead the world in green technology, there has to be a proactive "all-of-the-above" strategy.

President Obama has taken the most active role of any U.S. president in combating climate change in the face of growing Republican opposition. The administration’s goal is to be at the forefront of the burgeoning green technologies and achieve economic growth through, among other means, sustainable energy.

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