The Obama Administration has, tragically, signaled it may retreat on two major climate issues.
The UK Guardian reported Friday:
Barack Obama’s grand vision of action on climate change shrank to $200m a year to fund research into clean fuel cars, with signs of retreat on the big environmental issues of the day….
But on the most immediate environmental decision in his in-tray — the future of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project — White House officials indicated on Friday that Obama’s green and liberal supporters would be in for a disappointment. Officials signalled that the president was inclined to approve the project.
I must say that this $200 million a year, which has zero chance of seeing the light of day in the Tea-Party-controlled House of Representatives, is perhaps the tiniest bone one could imagine throwing the climate community in return for a decision to help unleash the uber-dirty tar sands.
And as if that wasn’t enough to suggest Obama’s recent strong words on climate (“If Congress Won’t Act Soon To Protect Future Generations, I Will”) were just that — words — the Washington Post reported on Friday:
The Obama administration is leaning toward revising its landmark proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, according to several individuals briefed on the matter, a move that would delay tougher restrictions and could anger many environmentalists.
I have also heard from a source very familiar with the regulatory process that EPA now believes it screwed up the initial proposal, potentially subjecting it to court challenge.
Rewriting the proposal would significantly delay any action…
While the move could bolster the administration’s legal justification for regulating power plants’ carbon emissions, any delay on the rules would be a blow to environmental groups and their supporters, who constituted a crucial voting block for President Obama and other Democrats in last year’s elections.
As is typical of the WashPost, the administration’s moved is framed entirely as “a blow to environmental groups” rather, than, say, a blow to the environment itself or as a blow humanity.
The White House appears utterly clueless about the importance of these issues and the self-destructive nature of its “all of the above” energy strategy, as the WH official quoted by the Guardian makes clear:
The official dismissed environmental groups’ contention that building the pipeline would open up vast deposits of the Alberta tar sands, and so increase the emissions that cause climate change. “There have been thousands of miles of pipelines that have been built while President Obama has been in office, and I think the point is, is that it hasn’t necessarily had a significant impact one way or the other on addressing climate change,” the official said.
He added that Obama’s environmental policies would more than make up for any negative impacts from the Keystone XL project. “There’s no question of that.”
Seriously, that’s the White House defense for Keystone: We’ve opened thousands of new spigots for oil (and gas), so what’s one more?
Memo to White House: We are far past the point where breaking even on carbon emissions — or doing a little better than break even — is a rational goal.