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VIDEO: In Big Environmental Speech, Obama Thanks EPA Staff, Mentions Climate Change in Passing

By Joe Romm on January 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm

"VIDEO: In Big Environmental Speech, Obama Thanks EPA Staff, Mentions Climate Change in Passing"

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Because of you, across the board, we’re cutting down on acid rain and air pollution.  We’re making our drinking water cleaner and safer.  We’re creating healthier communities.  But that’s not all.  Safeguarding our environment is also about strengthening our economy.  I do not buy the notion that we have to make a choice between having clean air and clean water and growing this economy in a robust way.  I think that is a false debate.  (Applause.)

Think about it:  We established new fuel economy standards, a historic accomplishment that is going to slash oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels, dramatically reduces pollution that contributes to climate change, and saves consumers thousands of dollars at the pump, which they can then go spend on something else.

President Barack Obama spoke to the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency today, thanking them for his work.  The last sentence above is all you are going to get from him on the greatest environmental threat the nation and the world have ever known.

Other than that ongoing, epic failure by the ‘leader’ of the free world, the speech isn’t bad, particularly if it means he will actually seriously defend environmental protection from the onslaught it will face this year in Congress and in his reelection fight.  Here are his full remarks.

[For readability's sake, I'm not indenting this.]

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Thank you, EPA!  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you so much.  It is wonderful to see you.  It is great to see you.  Thank you, thank you.

Now, everybody can have a seat.  I know Lisa is making you guys all stand up.  (Laughter.)  But you can all relax.

It is wonderful to be here with all of you.  Thank you so much for all the great work you do.  I want to first acknowledge your outstanding Administrator, Lisa Jackson.  (Applause.)  She has done an extraordinary job leading this agency.  But here’s what I want all of you to know:  Not only is she good on policy, not only is she tough and able to present the EPA’s mission so effectively to the public, but she also has your back.  (Applause.)  She is an advocate on behalf of all the people who work so hard here at the EPA.  And so you should know that your boss loves you, even if she doesn’t always show it, I don’t know.  (Laughter.)

The main reason I’m here is simple:  I just want to say thank you.  I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, because the EPA touches on the lives of every single American every single day.  You help make sure that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat are safe.  You protect the environment not just for our children but their children.  And you keep us moving towards energy independence.

And it is a vital mission.  Over the past three years, because of your hard work, we’ve made historic progress on all these fronts.  Just a few weeks ago, thanks to the hard work of so many of you, Lisa and I was able to announce new common-sense standards to better protect the air we breathe from mercury and other harmful air pollution.  And that was a big deal.  (Applause.)  And part of the reason it was a big deal was because, for over 20 years, special interest groups had successfully delayed implementing these standards when it came to our nation’s power plants.  And what we said was:  “Enough.”  It’s time to get this done.

And because we acted, we’re going to prevent thousands of premature deaths, thousands of heart attacks and cases of childhood asthma.

There are families that are going to be directly impacted in a positive way because of the work that you do.  Because you kept fighting — and some of you have been fighting this fight for a long time, long before I was here and long before Lisa was here.  And so your tenacity and stick-to-itness is making a difference.

Because of you, across the board, we’re cutting down on acid rain and air pollution.  We’re making our drinking water cleaner and safer.  We’re creating healthier communities.  But that’s not all.  Safeguarding our environment is also about strengthening our economy.  I do not buy the notion that we have to make a choice between having clean air and clean water and growing this economy in a robust way.  I think that is a false debate.  (Applause.)

Think about it:  We established new fuel economy standards, a historic accomplishment that is going to slash oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels, dramatically reduces pollution that contributes to climate change, and saves consumers thousands of dollars at the pump, which they can then go spend on something else.

As part of the Recovery Act, you cleaned up contaminated sites across the country, which helped to rid neighborhoods of environmental blight while putting Americans back to work.

We don’t have to choose between dirty air and dirty water or a growing economy.  We can make sure that we are doing right by our environment and, in fact, putting people back to work all across America.  That’s part of our mission.

When we put in place new common-sense rules to reduce air pollution, we create new jobs building and installing all sorts of pollution-control technology.  When we put in place new emissions standards for our vehicles, we make sure that the cars of tomorrow are going to be built right here in the United States of America, that we’re going to win that race.

When we clean up our nation’s waterways, we generate more tourists for our local communities.  So what’s good for the environment can also be good for our economy.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be some tensions.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be legitimate debates that take place.  That doesn’t mean that it’s not important for every single one of us to think about how can we make sure that we are achieving our goals in the smartest way possible, in the most efficient ways possible, in the least bureaucratic ways possible, in the clearest ways possible.  That’s also part of our mission.

There’s not a federal agency that can’t get better and be smarter in accomplishing our mission, and we have an obligation every single day to think about how can we do our business a little bit better.  How can we make sure the taxpayers are getting every dime’s worth that they’re paying in order to achieve these important common goals that we have?

But I believe we can do it, and you’ve shown me that we can do it over these last three years.  So I could not be prouder of the work that you all do every single day as federal employees.  I know the hours can be long.  I know that sometimes spending time getting these policies right means less time at home than you’d like, and you’re missing birthday parties, or you’re missing a soccer game, and the spouse is not happy with you.  I know a little bit about that sometimes.  (Laughter.)  I know these jobs are demanding.

But I also know what compelled you to enter public service in the first place — and that’s the idea that you could make a difference; that you could leave behind a planet that is a little cleaner, a little safer than the one we inherited.

And I have to tell you that part of why I get excited when I see some of the work that you’re doing is because our next generation is so much more attuned to these issues than I was when I was growing up.  I can tell you when I sit down and I talk to my kids, probably the area where they have the most sophisticated understanding of policy is when it comes to the environment.  They understand that the decisions we make now are going to have an impact on their lives for many years to come.  And their instincts are right.  So your mission is vital.

And just think of what this agency has been able to do over the last four decades.  There’s so many things we now take for granted.  When I hear folks grumbling about environmental policy, you almost want to do a Back to the Future — (laughter) — kind of reminder of folks of what happens when we didn’t have a strong EPA.  The year before President Nixon created the EPA, the Cuyahoga River was so dirty from industrial pollution and oil slicks that it literally caught on fire.  In my hometown, the Chicago River — you probably could not find anything alive in there — (laughter) — four decades ago.  Now it’s thriving — to the benefit of the city.  Today, because of your work, 92 percent of Americans have access to clean water that meets our national health standards.

Before the EPA was created, our cars were spewing harmful lead pollution into the air, with all sorts of impacts, especially on children.  Today, because of your work, air pollution is down by more than half, and lead pollution is down more than 90 percent from a generation ago.

So all of you, and all of those who served before you, have made a difference.  Our environment is safer because of you.  Our country is stronger because of you.  Our future is brighter because of you.  And I want you to know that you’ve got a President who is grateful for your work and will stand with you every inch of the way as you carry out your mission to make sure that we’ve got a cleaner world.  (Applause.)

So, thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

 

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14 Responses to VIDEO: In Big Environmental Speech, Obama Thanks EPA Staff, Mentions Climate Change in Passing

  1. prokaryotes says:

    Yes, we can! (save a safe climate state)

  2. TKPGH says:

    Obviously, mentioning climate change in passing is just a baby step. We need Obama to clear the air.

    Please go to Change.org and sing the petition to get Obama to speak out on the climate and oceans crisis:

    http://www.change.org/petitions/obama-please-address-cimate-change-now

    I just got done reading an article in the Washington Post that called ocean acidification overblown (somebody get Dr. Richard Feely on the phone). There is so much disinformation being thrown around, it’s insane. The comments show how misinformed and hostile peole are. It makes one ownder if we really can pull out of this nose dive we are in.

  3. Toby says:

    Imagine if Lincoln served from 1860 to 1864, making only a few passing references to slavery.

  4. Ken Barrows says:

    Yes we can “grow” the economy and save the environment! Because the President says so, although the statement is detached from reality.

  5. Paul Magnus says:

    To see how afraid Obama must be read his essay….
    “The Future I Want for My Daughters”

  6. fj says:

    Those climate hockey sticks look like straight lines but they really indicate increasing instability, variability, randomness, a world more hostile and unknown; scary times are likely coming soon — scarier than what we’ve witnessed in the last few years; unreal, like something out of the film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” continuing — do we really have a coherent storyline vision for our future?

    Will we continue to evolve despite a seemingly more chaotic world — in truth it’s always been chaotic — reminiscent of our most primitive past? Will we embrace our mortality with our humanity? Will we fight the good fight not murderous against ourselves but by dissolving our many limitations, follies, tom fooleries, oversights, ignorance? Will we ultimately prevail to restore our planet to our much nicer home?

  7. John Tucker says:

    I hate to say this because it is one of the most negative things I could say; but Obama’s climate initiative is starting to remind me of the Reagan era AIDS initiatives.

    And while thats probably an exaggeration now and Reagan was a infinitely worse US president, Obama is in a position to lead the whole world on this matter, and he is less than maintaining. He is falling down at a critical moment.

    Whether he wants it or not his response to Climate Change and Acidification will likely be a large part of his legacy. Just as something Reagan didn’t do is a large part of his.

  8. TKPGH says:

    Correction: the article I mentioned was in the Wall Street Journal. Apologies to all.

  9. fj says:

    Oil lobby’s financial pressure on Obama over Keystone XL #tarsands pipeline revealed #noxl


    http://gu.com/p/34tjd/tw

  10. Lore says:

    Let’s face it, Obama’s Presidency when it comes to the issues surrounding climate change is a complete fail. I wouldn’t expect any change from that in a second term.

    Of course, the alternative will be Romney, which by any stretch, would be far worse.

    We’re on the highway to hell. Our only choices remaining are which vehicle will get us there the fastest.

  11. Start Loving says:

    AND WHAT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, CAP??? BY WHAT RIGHT, BY WHAT SANITY, DO WE EXPECT OUR ELECTED OFFICIAL, OUR ‘QUARTERBACK,’ TO PUT HIS ‘LIFE’ ON THE LINE FOR WHAT WE WON’T – AND RAISING THE FLAG OF ‘CLIMATE CHANGE,’ ‘GLOBAL WARMING’ IS TO PUT A CROSS HAIRS ON HIS CHEST, THAT WE CITIZENS CAN’T AND WON’T IMAGINE DOING OURSELVES – RISKING CAREER, STANDARD OF LIVING, COMFORT, SAFETY, INCOME, FAMILY…. STOP THIS BS CAP. IF YOU ARE GOING TO CALL OUT THE PRES., CALL US, WE CITIZENS, WE THE PEOPLE, WE THE LIP-SERVICE LEFT FIRST.

    MY GOD. YOU ARE SUCH GOOD PEOPLE OTHERWISE.

    HOW CAN YOU PERPETUATE THIS MADNESS??? YES, WE YOUR READERS REVEL IN THE MYTH THAT THIS IS ‘GLADIATOR GAMES,’ WE ELECT OBAMA, AND WE’RE DONE – SIT IN THE STANDS FOR 4 YEARS, YELL ‘PLAYS,’ JEER…. BUT UNLESS YOU HELP US WAKE FROM THIS MADNESS TO THE TRUTH THAT DEMOCRACY IS A PARTICIPATION SPORT, A TEAM SPORT – WE’RE DEAD, LITERALLY. And no one will be more to blame, than you.

    MY GOD FRIENDS. PLEASE. PLEASE.

    PLEASE.

    • Start Loving says:

      And CAP, no, I’ll not keep making these comments. I’ll not harass. I’ll not harangue. If you can’t or won’t listen, that’s up to you. If you think I’m wrong, and won’t help me see what you think is correct, that’s on you too. There is nothing clever in what I say – I’m simply citing Human History; just unpopular; just totally counter to the armchair-quarterbacking, and much beloved fantasy among the left wing intelligentsia that the planet will be saved from the safety and comfort of our homes, offices, computer chairs… with blogging, articles, papers, research, technology, words…. No. Never have these brought major social change. They have a role to play, but only as accelerants, tools, weapons-of-construction – BUT WITHOUT COURAGEOUS, LIFE ON THE LINE UNVIOLENT SOLDIERS WIELDING THEM, the only thing they are doing now with enormous effectiveness, is Killing Time, and that’s Killing All Hope, if indeed any is left now.