How Obama can work around Congress to go forward on climate right now
Last month, President Obama proposed a plan that will, in his words, “pave the way toward a sustainable energy future” by using billions of dollars from offshore oil and gas leases to fund clean energy technology. While we share the vision of a sustainable energy future, the President’s proposal exemplifies two major reasons his “all of the above” energy strategy won’t get us there.
First, the President’s proposal calls for more pollution today to generate money for a clean energy tomorrow. This is absurd, especially when we can have clean energy today if the president uses the tools already at his disposal right now to make it happen. Let’s be clear: clean energy isn’t just the energy of the future–it is today’s energy. In fact, all new electricity generated in the United States this January was from wind and solar–no nuclear, no coal, and no natural gas. This is happening right now, not in some sci fi tomorrow.
The question about the future is not if clean energy will be cost effective. We know it will be. The question is if the presidents’ children, and ours, will grow up in a world of much worse Sandys or much more solar. This depends largely on the President’s choices today.
The second shortcoming of the President’s strategy is that at a time when the President can unleash hundreds of billions of private dollars to deploy clean energy through the power of his pen, he is choosing to push for $2 billion through a Congress dominated by big oil and coal money.
In fact President Obama can use existing laws to move America to a clean, strong economy for all of us right now.
*Enforce EPA carbon standards on existing power plants;
*Develop new appliance and equipment efficiency standards through the Department of Energy;
*Enforce his own executive order that calls for green federal infrastructure retrofits;
*Tell the Treasury Department to stop chaining us to coal companies and allow us to have solar on our homes–and pay for our electricity through our tax bills;
*Commit the federal government to buying 100% clean energy, following the lead of smart forward-facing companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and major U.S. companies that have committed to doing the same.
President Obama is on record—very publicly–as saying he’s serious about solving climate change for future generations, and he’s clearly working on it. But if he lets dirty energy have its way with the Keystone XL pipeline, lax carbon safeguards on power plants, and continued offshore drilling, while letting these opportunities for bold leadership pass him by, then all future generations will have is a tragically obsolete speech. It is time for President Obama to move from the politics and the pollution of the past, embrace today’s energy – clean energy – and boldly lead our country forward. The world we hand to our children is at stake.