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Obama Lacks Vision on Energy, Stomach to Defend EPA

Obama Lacks Vision on Energy, Stomach to Defend EPA

President Obama made an energy speech this week that had little new to offer, while on Capitol Hill, Republicans were pushing to relieve the government of its last options to limit carbon emissions. In the House, Republicans have passed a bill that would keep the EPA from regulating carbon, and in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid repeatedly pushed back a vote on the same issue.

But as Eartha Jane Melzer reports at The Michigan Messenger, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has become the latest senator to propose taking away the EPA’s authority over greenhouse gasses this week. If the Senate decides it wants to pursue this policy, it will have plenty of options to choose from.

Conflicting news leaked out about how strongly the Obama administration was willing to stand up for the EPA’s right (granted by the Supreme Court) to treat carbon as a pollutant under the Clear Air Act. Grist’s Glenn Hurowitz noted an Associated Press story with a comment indicating that the White House was telling Congress they’d have to compromise on this issue. But on Thursday the White House reassured progressive bloggers that it was opposed to any amendments to funding bills that furthered “unrelated policy agendas.”

The energy speech

The energy speech that President Obama delivered at Georgetown this week, however, did not do much to reassure climate activists that the administration will put forward a strong vision on these issues. The president talked about decreasing our dependence on foreign oil and set a goal of having 80% of the country’s electricity come from clean energy sources by 2035.

But as David Roberts at Grist writes, Obama skirted some of the trickiest issues. “The core truth is that for the U.S., oil problems mostly have to do with supply and oil solutions mostly have to do with demand,” he says. “America becomes safer from oil by using less. From the Democratic establishment, only retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is telling the public that truth.”

Is clean energy green energy?

President Obama is right that the country has room to pursue more clean energy opportunities. As Public News Service’s Mary Kuhlman reports, America is behind in the clean energy race. The Pew Environment Group just released a report that, according to Kuhlman, “finds the United States as a whole is falling behind in the global clean-energy race…The U.S. maintained the top spot until 2008, according to research from the Pew Charitable Trusts, but fell in 2010 to third behind China and Germany.”

But as I point out at TAPPED, when politicians use the words “clean energy,” they’re generally talking about mid-point solutions like natural gas and nuclear energy. President Obama’s proposed standard does not necessarily support renewable energy — wind and solar projects that are truly sustainable.

The alternatives

And as Gavin Aronsen writes at Mother Jones, renewable energy projects need more support. “The near-term future of solar power in the US will also depend on whether President Obama’s stimulus money keeps flowing,” he explains. “For now, energy companies have until the end of the year to qualify for funding. Meanwhile, some solar advocates are suggesting alternatives like installing panels on urban rooftops.”

If these projects flag, the alternative to renewable, or even clean, energy is not appealing. The world is beginning to depend on energy sources that require greater effort and create more environmental damage. Oil from tar sands is one such source, although as, Beth Buczynski reports at Care2, “a research group at Penn State spent the past 18 months developing a technique that uses ionic liquids (salt in a liquid state) to facilitate separation of oil from the sands in a cleaner, more energy efficient manner. The separation takes place at room temperature without the generation of waste water.” Sounds like an improvement!

Does genetically modified alfafa do a body good?

The Obama administration is not only disappointing on energy issues. At GritTV, Laura Flanders talks to New York Times food writer Mark Bittman about the future of organic food, and the two agree that the only person whose agriculture and food policy they can wholeheartedly endorse is Michelle Obama’s. Too bad she’s not part of the administration.

One recent gripe is the Department of Agriculture’s decision to approve genetically modified alfafa. “Essentially it’s the beginning of the end of organic,” Bittman said. “Once you introduce alfafa, which pollinates by the wind, you can’t guarantee that any alfafa doesn’t have genetically modified seed in it. And alfafa is used as hay, hay is used to feed cows, there goes organic milk. There goes a lot of organic meat.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment bymembers of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint.


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Photo courtesy of davipt via flickr
written by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

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79 comments

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12:38AM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

“America becomes safer from oil by using less. From the Democratic establishment, only retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is telling the public that truth.”

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/weekly-mulch-obama-lacks-vision-on-energy-stomach-to-defend-epa.html#ixzz1bmELsurs

12:34AM PDT on Oct 25, 2011

"President Obama’s proposed standard does not necessarily support renewable energy — wind and solar projects that are truly sustainable."

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/weekly-mulch-obama-lacks-vision-on-energy-stomach-to-defend-epa.html#ixzz1bmDEiwKj

Obama has been lied to about solar and wind. The people need to act on the truth about solar and wind.

8:04PM PDT on May 11, 2011

That's not the only thing Obama is lacking in, He is lacking in INTEGRITY also, and he has sold out to the Republican Illuminati Party, and Obama is only satisfying the GREED of the GOP, and damning us all to H#)). Don't say the killing Osama, proves anything either, I didn't have a hopeful outlook for the future before Osama was killed, and I still don't have any improvement thereafter, so why should I hop-on the Obama band-wagon because Obama organized a successful assassination of Osama-? He that lives by the sword, shall die by the sword,... remember...

3:32AM PDT on Apr 24, 2011

It's two and one half years out from the starting gate. Pres is one man with everything on his plate and under constant badgering by the R party and the Koch bros and the fascism trying and/or taking over our country. Can't do everything in 2 years. long list many battles. Look to the culprits you keep letting fool you that you keep putting in office-- the republicans. The ones elected are dismantling your states and jobs and if you voted these people in you didn't help the mess. It set us further back. Many people who voted these people in are sorry cause they are suffering too. what can I say. Bush didn't get the kind of blowback this president has/is getting. And even tho Bush screwed up royaly guess whose got his back? Those republicans and tea baggers. They love him and you better not say anything bad about him. So where are we now? By the way do any of us remember why we started making ethanol? Wasn't it for the same reasons to be something cheaper cause we couldn't afford the real thing?

8:40PM PDT on Apr 13, 2011

thanks for telling the world

6:16PM PDT on Apr 7, 2011

I have asked Bernie Sanders to run for President in 2012 several times.

His website is: http://sanders.senate.gov/

I recommend that you go to “contact” on the site and ask him to run too.

Mr. Obama has not followed through on most of his promises that he made to the people that worked so hard to get him elected.

He has failed to do anything about the out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs while at the same time bailed out the banks.

He has placed corporate beneficiaries as corporate watch dogs in his administration.

He has failed to provide a public option health care system and the private system will continue to spiral out of control.

He has failed to repeal the tax breaks to the rich when he was able to do so and then folded when they were ready to sunset.

In reality, there has done nothing substantive to stop the class war being waged and spearheaded by international corporate America and the Republican party and has spent a lot of money doing so.

He has turned upon his political base.

It is time to get the “change” that Mr. Obama promised and never delivered.

5:45AM PDT on Apr 5, 2011

We NEED European level taxes on motor fuel in particular and on fossil fuel in general to cut demand. There are marginal buyers in every market. A good stiff excise tax is the way to shake the marginal buyers to leave somewhat more for those who really need the product and are willing and able to pay whatever they have to for it. We also need more renewable energy. I would not mind earmarking and grandfathering the subsidies to the fossil fuel companies--PROVIDED the fossil fuel companies are required to invest those subsidies in switching to sustainable energy. The trouble with fossil fuel is that it is NOT sustainable. When it is gone--it is GONE and then where will we be. Better we should really put some effort into making the switch now BEFORE we run out of fossil fuel

8:18PM PDT on Apr 4, 2011

I am disappointed that Obama hasn't been FORCEFUL on practically anything. Mincing words, does not impress me. He is FINALLY going to put solar panels on the W.H., but he's been timid in facing down the repubs on most.

The GM alfalfa is terribly disappointing -- again, short-term solutions, instead of long-term thinking. Organic alfalfa is gone! I don't eat meat, but this will affect so many people, and we don't know the long-range effects of this on ourselves or future generations. Good work, guys, in placating Monsanto.

4:04PM PDT on Apr 4, 2011

I too am disappointed in Obama since I am dead set against nuclear energy, coal, etc. and would like to see exploration of other renewable resources. His vision and principles are a bit blurred on this issue, but let's also remember that while he may lack vision on energy and the stomach to defend the EPA, but the GOP and tea-party have made it clear that they are ignorant , greedy, climate change denying, good for tnothings that are in bed (as usual) with corporations since money is their one and only God and they'll stop at nothing to get more of it in their dirty, bloodstained hands. In other words he can try but they'll try to block his every move if it doesn't fit in with their conservative, elitist visions. And why the hell aren't any of the other Democrats trying to stand up and do something? It's as if they've fallend asleep on thisissue.

Good point Joy Dantine.

2:24PM PDT on Apr 4, 2011

Obama is supporting and wants more nuclear energy--I have lost respect for him. That is unforgivable in light of recent catyclysmic events in Japan.

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