To President Obama: Be the Climate President I thought you would, please.
I planned on waiting to write this post until closer to the November election, but it’s on our mind now, and the with the Keystone XL decision due on February 21, it’s seems appropriate.
So, to President Obama: Hello. I’m a supporter. I’m a faithful liberal democrat, whose vocational concern is mitigating climate change, and who places climate and environmental policy as one of the top 3 issues in my political worldview. If we don’t put the Earth at the top of the list, well, we are doing a disservice to our species’ survival. Not a politically popular position, but as important a value as there is.
When you made the change from Candidate Obama to President-Elect Obama, I wrote the following:
It’s starting to feel more and more like what happens with the Keystone XL will reflect whether that impulse was right. I know I wasn’t the only one who had such an impulse. It seem’s so optimistic now, but after the campaign, that is where you led us environmental folks.
And then, you did not push on Nancy Pelosi’s energy and climate legislation when you had the opportunity. Instead, health care reform was prioritized, and passed. I get that. But was pretty bummed. I doubt you could have known health care was going to take the entire time you had the super-majority. But you missed a lot of opportunities while getting that watered-down health care bill passed.
It is true, though, you have been a pro-environment President. To pretend otherwise is to miss the facts, to obscure the forest for the trees. Even yesterday your administration made an important decision to protect the Grand Canyon by banning uranium mining. You have increased fuel-efficiency standards, protected and enhanced the Endangered Species Act, and overseen many environmentally friendly decisions in the three years you’ve been in office.
But climate change mitigation is not the same as protecting the environment. Environmental decisions are critical and necessary. But that’s not good enough. The continued permits for exploring in the Gulf after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the continued mountain-top removal, the failure to move climate change mitigation to a policy level priority through the legislature, these are climate failures.
And now Keystone looms. A Climate President, and I perhaps rashly addressed you as such three years ago, would find a way to move the nation, and the world, towards decreasing our Greenhouse Gas emissions. Because that is what is necessary to confront the actual threat of climate change. The science is clear, and you have said all along that you respect science. Not enough to put through EPA director Lisa Jackson’s regulations to hinder emissions. Not enough to choose climate change as the primary driver of your legislative majority. But still. You’ve called for clean energy, you’ve called for robust energy portfolio relying on renewables, you’ve called for serious action on climate change. And yet, we are still pumping out more CO2 than ever.
I know the system. And that you cannot just enact a series of climate friendly decisions and expect the nation to change its energy ways, stop everything and turn course. Of course not. This country is deeply embedded in a fossil-fuel energy system, and getting out of that system is going to be very, very hard. But now that it is clear that any action will have to be made in spite of the Congress, not with the Congress, maybe it’s time to take a step against the threat of climate change. Don’t worry about November, either; I agree with David Roberts: this isn’t even going to be that big of a deal come election time.
I know you recognize the reality and the danger and the scientific necessity to start somewhere on Climate Change. Hopefully, you recognize that KXL provides a pretty good staring point.
Thanks. Have a good day. The Relative Comment.