So today, President Obama spoke up on the greatest global security crisis of our time. And below is what he said.
Embracing an issue that could define his legacy but also ignite new battles with Republicans, Mr. Obama said he would use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants.
That was the centerpiece of a three-part plan that includes new federal spending to advance renewable energy technology, as well as spending to protect cities and states from the ravages of storms and droughts that are exacerbated by a changing climate.
Saying science had put to rest the debate over whether human activity was warming the earth, Mr. Obama said, “The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it is too late.”
“As a president, as a father and as an American, I am here to say, we need to act,” he said to students and others gathered in a sunbaked quadrangle at Georgetown University. “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that is beyond saving.”
Environmental justice advocates have been waiting for some time for President Obama to announce action. But last week, news finally broke of the President's decision announce executive action on climate change. Since the current Congress has no plans to take on any comprehensive climate legislation, The White House must go it alone on this one.
We've known for some time that action must be taken very soon. Recent extremely severe weather has served even more reminders of this. We just can't afford to deny reality any more.
And this is why Congress is still not off the hook, not even after today's big announcement. After all, they still need to cooperate to guarantee further action (to ensure future human survival).
[... T]he President should not let Congress off the hook. Obama is following through on the promise in his Inaugural Address that if Congress didn’t act on global warming, he would. The fact remains, however, that the most impactful and lasting changes in America’s energy and climate policies require action by Congress, including a price on carbon.
It has proven futile to bludgeon the current Congress into acknowledging the reality of climate change, let alone doing something about it. President Obama should turn the nation’s attention to next year’s mid-term election. If the American people want to curb climate change – and opinion polls show a large majority of the people do — it will take a regime change on Capitol Hill. As the mid-term election approaches, President Obama and his Cabinet should continue driving home that we already are going to suffer a lot more of what we’re getting today – floods, drought, strong hurricanes, wildfires – but that without action, it will get unimaginably worse.
President Obama should not let opponents get away with the tired argument that climate action costs jobs, or weakens the economy, or diverts Washington from the issues that are highest on the public’s priority list. As repeated research has shown, America’s transition to a clean energy economy will be a huge job and business creator, engaging the United States in the largest emerging global market in history.
As we have discussed here many times before, Nevada and the nation stand to gain more jobs and better economic development as the result of strong climate action. So why would any one in Congress (and especially any one representing this state) want to stand in the way of this? Oh wait, that's right. Some there continue to show more interest in fictional scandals than actual policies.
We just can't afford to live in fiction any more. Today has been a very stark reminder of that. President Obama took another major step to solve the climate crisis. We simply can't afford to turn back now.