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Hullabaloo


Monday, January 21, 2013

 
Positive signs from the President on climate change

by David Atkins

Digby noted earlier today the numerous positive and progressive signs in President Obama's 2nd Inaugural Address. None of them were more welcome than the significant piece of it related to climate change. From the speech:

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. 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. 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. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.
The White House is also beginning to realize that just getting results is more importance than the process used to get there, particularly in the face of such intransigence from the Republicans:

Mr. Obama is heading into the effort having extensively studied the lessons from his first term, when he failed to win passage of comprehensive legislation to reduce emissions of the gases that cause global warming. This time, the White House plans to avoid such a fight and instead focus on what it can do administratively.

The centerpiece will be action by the Environmental Protection Agency to clamp down further on emissions from coal-burning power plants under regulations still being drafted — and likely to draw legal challenges.

That step will be supplemented by adoption of new energy efficiency standards for home appliances and buildings, a seemingly small step that can have a substantial impact by reducing demand for electricity. Those standards would echo the sharp increase in fuel economy that the administration required from automakers in the first term.

The Pentagon, one of the country’s largest energy users, is also taking strides toward cutting use and converting to renewable fuels.
It's also notable that much more of the speech was dedicated to climate change than to deficit reduction. That's a welcome change from the Presidential campaign, particularly the debates, in which the deficit was mentioned 72 times while climate change was never addressed.

Skeptics and cynics will say that the Inaugural Address was simply pretty words and window dressing. That view is understandable. We've certainly been disappointed before.

But Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an opportunity for hope and forgiveness. With his last election in the rear view mirror, it may be that the President is ready to take a more forceful role as a more progressive leader. If he follows through, there will be a legion of activists ready and excited to support him.


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