The President has (finally) been talking hawkish on climate. Turns out he now realizes that is part of his job! (Duh?)
In his second inaugural address, Obama said failing to respond to the threat of climate change “would betray our children and future generations.” In his State of the Union, Obama vowed to take executive action if Congress fails to pass a climate bill.
The most important action he can take without further Congressional approval is restricting emissions from existing coal-fired power plants using his authority under the Clean Air Act.
While he didn’t announce specific plans for such regulations in the SOTU, he did make the case for them during a recent Google+ hangout:
“The truth is if you produce power using old power plants, you’re going to be emitting more carbon — but to upgrade those plants, energy’s going to be a little bit more expensive, at least on the front end. At the core, we have to do something that’s really difficult for any society to do, and that is to take actions now where the benefits are coming down the road, or at least we’re avoiding big problems down the road,”
During the online video chat, he also said that speaking out on climate change is part of his job:
“Part of my job is to use the bully pulpit to help raise people’s awareness, because if the public cares about it, eventually Congress acts. If the public doesn’t care about it, it’s very hard to get big stuff done because legislators respond to their constituents sooner or later.”
That is quite a reversal from the climate silence Obama has practiced for much of the past years — a flawed strategy that team Obama actually pushed others to adopt starting back in March 2009. Let’s hope this is all more than rhetoric, something we will find out relatively soon — when he makes the final Keystone XL tar sands pipeline decision.