“You’ve inherited a country that’s all about living large,”
“each person takes up not only the space occupied by their home and school, but also land in Iowa to grow their food, in Brazil and China to make all their “stuff,” and in the Middle East to get fuel to drive around.”
“Can you believe that the average American teenager uses about 21 football fields of Earth’s resources to live?”
“…We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.
The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition, we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries, we must claim its promise. That’s how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways, our crop lands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared…”
“for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. (Applause.) Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods — all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science — and act before it’s too late.
Now, the good news is we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. “
President Obama Establishes a Task Force on Climate
FACT SHEET: Executive Order on Climate Preparedness
November 01, 2013
“We’re going to need to get prepared. And that’s why this plan will also protect critical sectors of our economy and prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change that we cannot avoid. States and cities across the country are already taking it upon themselves to get ready… And we’ll partner with communities seeking help to prepare for droughts and floods, reduce the risk of wildfires, protect the dunes and wetlands that pull double duty as green space and as natural storm barriers.” –
President Barack Obama, June 25, 2013
Today, President Obama established a Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change. The Task Force members include state, local and tribal leaders from across the country who will use their first-hand experiences in building climate preparedness and resilience in their communities to inform their recommendations to the Administration.
The President signed an Executive Order that directs Federal agencies to take a series of steps to make it easier for American communities to strengthen their resilience to extreme weather and prepare for other impacts of climate change.
Our Earth is warming. Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.4°F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2 to 11.5°F over the next hundred years. Small changes in the average temperature of the planet can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather.
The evidence is clear. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet’s oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes – oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment.
Humans are largely responsible for recent climate change
Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy, although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural practices also emit gases into the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around Earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and causing it to warm. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect and is natural and necessary to support life on Earth. However, the buildup of greenhouse gases can change Earth’s climate and result in dangerous effects to human health and welfare and to ecosystems.
The choices we make today will affect the amount of greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere in the near future and for years to come.
Climate change affects everyone
Our lives are connected to the climate. Human societies have adapted to the relatively stable climate we have enjoyed since the last ice age which ended several thousand years ago. A warming climate will bring changes that can affect our water supplies, agriculture, power and transportation systems, the natural environment, and even our own health and safety.
Some changes to the climate are unavoidable. Carbon dioxide can stay in the atmosphere for nearly a century, so Earth will continue to warm in the coming decades. The warmer it gets, the greater the risk for more severe changes to the climate and Earth’s system. Although it’s difficult to predict the exact impacts of climate change, what’s clear is that the climate we are accustomed to is no longer a reliable guide for what to expect in the future.
We can make a difference
You can take action. You can take steps at home, on the road, and in your office to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the risks associated with climate change. Many of these steps can save you money; some, such as walking or biking to work can even improve your health! You can also get involved on a local or state level to support energy efficiency, clean energy programs, or other climate programs.
Calculate your carbon footprint and find ways to reduce your emissions through simple everyday actions.
Personal Greenhouse Gas Emissions Calculator
EPA and other federal agencies are taking action. EPA is working to protect the health and welfare of Americans through common sense measures to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and to help communities prepare for climate change.
October 15-16, 2013
Secretary of State Department Under Secretary Wendy R. Sherman to lead the United States’ delegation
UPDATE: Iran, six world powers clinch breakthrough nuclear deal
11/23/13 1 hour ago By Parisa Hafezi and Justyna Pawlak – Reuters
GENEVA (Reuters) – Iran and six world powers reached a breakthrough agreement early on Sunday to curb Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for limited sanctions relief, in a first step towards resolving a dangerous decade-old standoff.
The deal between the Islamic state and the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia was nailed down after more than four days of negotiations.
“We have reached an agreement,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced on his Twitter feed. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also confirmed the deal.
Iran will get access to $4.2 billion in foreign exchange as part of the accord, a Western diplomat said. No other details of the agreement were immediately available.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and foreign ministers of the five other world powers joined the negotiations with Iran early on Saturday as the two sides appeared to be edging closer to a long-sought preliminary agreement.
The talks were aimed at finding a package of confidence-building steps to ease decades of tensions and banish the specter of a Middle East war over Tehran’s nuclear aspirations.
The Western powers’ goal had been to cap Iran’s nuclear energy program, which has a history of evading U.N. inspections and investigations, to remove any risk of Tehran covertly refining uranium to a level suitable for bombs.
Statement By The President On First Step Agreement On Iran’s Nuclear Program
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Today, the United States — together with our close allies and partners — took an important first step toward a comprehensive solution that addresses our concerns with the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program.
Since I took office, I’ve made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As I’ve said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we’ve extended the hand of diplomacy. Yet for many years, Iran has been unwilling to meet its obligations to the international community. So my administration worked with Congress, the United Nations Security Council and countries around the world to impose unprecedented sanctions on the Iranian government.
These sanctions have had a substantial impact on the Iranian economy, and with the election of a new Iranian President earlier this year, an opening for diplomacy emerged. I spoke personally with President Rouhani of Iran earlier this fall. Secretary Kerry has met multiple times with Iran’s Foreign Minister. And we have pursued intensive diplomacy — bilaterally with the Iranians, and together with our P5-plus-1 partners — the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China, as well as the European Union.
Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.
While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal. For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back. Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment and neutralizing part of its stockpiles. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges, which are used for enriching uranium. Iran cannot install or start up new centrifuges, and its production of centrifuges will be limited. Iran will halt work at its plutonium reactor. And new inspections will provide extensive access to Iran’s nuclear facilities and allow the international community to verify whether Iran is keeping its commitments.
These are substantial limitations which will help prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. Simply put, they cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb. Meanwhile, this first step will create time and space over the next six months for more negotiations to fully address our comprehensive concerns about the Iranian program. And because of this agreement, Iran cannot use negotiations as cover to advance its program.
Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.
Under President Obama’s leadership, the United States has engaged the international community to promote sustainable economic growth and to meet the climate change challenge through a number of important venues, including:
International Climate Negotiations
In December 2009, President Obama and other world leaders came together to negotiate the Copenhagen Accord, an important milestone in which, for the first time, all major developed and developing economies agreed to implement measures to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and to do so in an internationally transparent manner. In 2010, the Cancun Agreement confirmed and substantially extended the core elements of the Copenhagen Accord in the areas of finance, technology and adaptation as well as mitigation and transparency in an instrument that the Parties enthusiastically endorsed.In December 2011 at Durban, the United States and the international community took important steps to make operational all of the key elements of the Cancun agreement, including a transparency regime to monitor and review mitigation efforts by developed and developing countries, as well as established a Green Climate Fund. In addition, a process was launched to negotiate a new legal instrument to take effect from 2020, and U.S. leadership was crucial to ensuring that the instrument will be applicable to all parties and include all of the major economies within a common legal system.
The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, launched by President Obama in April 2009, facilitates a candid dialogue among major developed and developing economies to make progress in meeting the climate change and clean energy challenge. The 17 major economies which are members of the Major Economies Forum are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Clean Energy Ministerial, announced by President Obama and the Leaders of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, and led by Energy Secretary Chu, has made progress towards its goal of driving transformational low-carbon, climate friendly technologies by providing tools and platforms to improve the policy environment for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean energy access.
At the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit chaired by President Obama in Honolulu, leaders agreed to eliminate non-tariff barriers to environmental goods and services, including local content requirements, and cut applied tariffs on such goods and services to 5 percent by 2015. This will help lower costs, increase the dissemination of clean technologies, and create jobs. Leaders further committed to phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and aimed to reduce the energy intensity of APEC economies by 45 percent by 2035.
In February 2012, the United States launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollution, a new global initiative to make rapid progress on climate change and air quality. Reducing pollutants that are “short-lived” in the atmosphere, such as methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which together account for one-third of current global warming, can prevent more than 2 million premature deaths a year, avoid the annual loss of over 30 million tons of crops, increase energy security, and address climate change. Founding coalition partners include Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Sweden, and the UN Environment Program.
Many communities around the country are asking for tools to help them achieve their desired development goals, improve quality of life, and become more economically and environmentally sustainable. In response to this demand, EPA developed the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program.
Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities provides quick, targeted technical assistance to selected local and/or tribal governments using a variety of tools that have demonstrated results and widespread application. The purpose of delivering these tools is to stimulate a discussion about growth and development and strengthen local capacity to implement sustainable approaches.
In 2013, EPA will select up to 44 communities for assistance. Each technical assistance project in a community will include:
Public engagement, a one-day workshop that is open to the public.
Direct consultation with relevant decision-makers.
A memo outlining specific steps the community could take to implement the ideas generated during the site visit.
Technical assistance will be delivered by EPA staff. In addition, four nonprofit organizations with extensive expertise in sustainable communities will select up to 55 additional communities for assistance. These organizations-Forterra, Global Green USA, Project for Public Spaces, and Smart Growth America-have received grants from EPA to offer assistance using tools they have chosen.
The tradition of the Cabinet dates back to the beginnings of the Presidency itself. Established in Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, the Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office.
The Cabinet includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.
The 15 Secretaries from the executive departments are appointed by the President, and they must be confirmed by a majority vote (51 votes) of the Senate. They cannot be a member of Congress or hold any other elected office. Cabinet appointments are for the duration of the administration, but the President may dismiss any member at any time, without approval of the Senate. In addition, they are expected to resign when a new President takes office.
Over the next few days President Obama will be nominating his choices to fill the vacancies for his 2013-2016 Cabinet.
“As Jonathan Cohn pointed out in The New Republic, filibusters of presidential agency nominations were once very rare, happening only two times each to Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton had nine nominations blocked, and George W. Bush had seven. Obama is “already up to 16 blocks,” Cohn noted.”
. For the last decade, we have spent more money than we take in. In the year 2000, the government had a budget surplus. But instead of using it to pay off debt, the money was spent on trillions of dollars in the nex tax cuts, while two wars and an expensive prescription drug program were simply added to our nationsl’s credit card…To mkae matters worse, the recession meant that there was less money coming in, and it required us to spend even more – on tax cuts for the middle-class families to spur the economy; on unemployment insurance; on aid to states so we could prevent more teachers and firefighters and police officers from being laid off.
Because neither party is blameless for the decision that led to this problem, both parties have a responsibility to solve it.
Think Obama’s a huge spender? Then you need to see these two charts.
January 24, 2013 at 9:01 am Posted by Ezra Klein – washingtonpost
On Tuesday, Kevin Drum posted this chart showing the growth in total government spending — that means federal, state and local — adjusted by population (“per capita”).
The takeaway, Drum says, is that “total government spending didn’t go up much during the Clinton era, and it’s actually declined during under President Obama. In the last two decades, it’s only gone up significantly during the Bush era, the same era in which taxes were cut dramatically.”
But some said Drum’s chart was a trick, as it looked at total government spending rather than just federal spending. So on Wednesday, he posted a second chart. This one only included federal spending and it didn’t adjust for population growth. The only thing is adjusts for is inflation. Here it is:
Five Things You Should Know About What Steps President Obama has taken in regards to the National Debt:
1. The Campaign to Cut Waste is hunting down and eliminating misspent tax dollars in every agency and department across the federal government. Already, the Administration has identified $3 billion in information technology cost reductions, is shutting down hundreds of duplicative data centers, and getting rid of excess federal real estate. Learn more
2. For the first time in 13 years, the federal government decreased contract spending. In 2010, contract spending was $80 billion less than it would have been, had it continued to grow at the same rate as it did under the Bush Administration. Learn more
3. In the 2012 Budget, the President proposed 211 terminations, reductions and savings measures which will save more than $33 billion in 2012 and $400 billion over the next decade. Learn more (PDF)
4. President Obama’s directive to the federal government to use common-sense and buy office supplies in bulk should save us up to $200 million over the next four years. Learn more (PDF)
5. Federal agencies are using the latest technology to combat fraud and slash erroneous payments and have made significant strides, tripling the amount of improper payments to contractors recaptured last year. Learn more
The President discussed the need to tackle our deficits over the long term through tax reform that asks those who can afford it to pay their fair share and modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare. Though the issues of debt and deficits have dominated much of the recent conversation in Washington, the most immediate concern of most Americans is job creation and growing our economy. That is why President Obama laid out some common sense steps that can be taken right away to spur economic growth such as extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance:
Specifically, we should extend the payroll tax cut as soon as possible, so that workers have more money in their paychecks next year and businesses have more customers next year.
We should continue to make sure that if you’re one of the millions of Americans who’s out there looking for a job, you can get the unemployment insurance that your tax dollars contributed to. That will also put money in people’s pockets and more customers in stores.
In fact, if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut and the unemployment insurance benefits that I’ve called for, it could mean 1 million fewer jobs and half a percent less growth. This is something we can do immediately, something we can do as soon as Congress gets back.
U.S. Sees First Debt Reduction Since 2007 as Revenue Rises
Apr 29, 2013 1:41 PM PT By Meera Louis – bloomberg
The U.S. Treasury Department (USGG10YR) projected it will reduce government debt this quarter for the first time in six years as tax receipts exceed forecasts and spending diminishes.
The pay-down in net marketable debt was estimated at $35 billion in the April-June period, compared with a projection three months ago for net borrowing of $103 billion, the department said in a statement today in Washington. Treasury officials also see net borrowing of $223 billion in the quarter starting July 1. The estimates set the stage for the department’s quarterly refunding announcement on May 1, when debt issuance plans will be released.
A sustained economic expansion and across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration may help deliver the first net decline in debt since 2007, when the government lowered borrowing by $139 billion before the global financial crisis spawned the worst recession since the 1930s. While the economy’s strength is helping boost tax revenue, total U.S. public debt outstanding is approaching $17 trillion.
“This is a substantial revision,” said Thomas Simons, a government debt economist at Jefferies LLC in New York. Still, “it is possible that Treasury will take a wait-and-see approach in evaluating the sustainability of the recent surge in tax receipts before making adjustments” to debt auctions, he said.
. Energy – Pledges US will become independent to energy sources outside of North America by 2020; supports opening Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves, Western Lands, the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska to drilling; wants to reduce obstacles to energy development by weakening the EPA’s rules.
Environment – Says green power has yet to become viable and the causes of climate change are unknown; opposes “ cap and trade” policy that limits emissions; proposes to remove carbon dioxide from lists of pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act.
War On The EPA: Republican Bills Would Erase Decades Of Protection
10/9/11 Lucia Graves – HuffingtonPost
WASHINGTON — America’s environmental protections are under a sweeping, concerted assault in Congress that could effectively roll back the federal government’s ability to safeguard air and water more than 100 years, Democrats and advocates say.
The headlines have not been dramatic, and the individual attacks on relatively obscure rules seldom generate much attention beyond those who are most intently focused on environmental regulation.
But taken together, the separate moves — led by House Republicans — add up to a stunning campaign against governmental regulatory authority that is now surprisingly close to succeeding.
In just the year since the GOP took control of the House, there have been at least 159 votes held against environmental protections — including 83 targeting the Environmental Protection Agency — on the House floor alone, according to a list compiled by Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Republicans have made an assault on all environmental issues,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee. “This is, without doubt, the most anti-environmental Congress in history.”
President Obama came into office with climate change as one of his major issues. At international talks in Copenhagen, he pledged to reduce U.S. emissions by 17 percent over 2005 levels by the year 2020. At that meeting and since, he pressed to get more aggressive action out of China, India and the world’s other biggest carbon dioxide emitters.
But the president’s plans didn’t make it past strong Republican opposition in Congress. So instead, he has settled for actions the president can take without congressional action.
IF YOU CARE ABOUT OUR ENVIRONMENTVOTE IN DEMOCRATS INTO CONGRESS !!!
Sierra Club Statement On the Romney-Ryan Energy Plan
August 23, 2012 sierraclub
Washington, DC – Today, in New Mexico, Mitt Romney released details about his energy plan. Romney’s plan rehashes the reckless Big Oil and Big Coal priorities he has pushed for months, ending numerous public health safeguards, shredding the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, throwing open public lands and offshore areas to drilling and mining, and killing tens of thousands of American clean energy jobs.
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune Released the Following Statement in Response:
“Mitt Romney has devised an energy insecurity plan that would make us even more dependent upon oil, coal, and gas companies while ignoring climate disruption, economic growth, and the health and well-being of the American people.
Does anyone really think that the winning economy of the 21st century can be built on 19th century fossil fuel technology? Romney’s plan is an anchor to the past. The future America deserves is one in which energy doesn’t cost lives, and no one has to choose between a good job and good health.
America needs a bold, innovative plan for our energy future that acknowledges reality. We need a plan that produces energy domestically, puts people to work, and makes us truly energy independent – but one that also stabilizes our climate, and keeps our air and water clean.
We have solutions that won’t keep us chained to fossil fuels, and they’re already working. Greenhouse gas emissions are down to their lowest level in 20 years. We’re using less oil, new vehicle standards will double efficiency and slash carbon pollution. U.S. wind power has doubled over the last four years, and solar has grown by a factor of five. This is where we need to go as a nation. We can’t afford to turn back.”
The Kochs’ quest
10/13/2012 09:11:44 PM PDT By Bill Wilson and Roy Wenzl – The Wichita Eagle
WICHITA, Kan. — In January 2009, just days after the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Charles and David Koch met in their company headquarters in Wichita with their longtime political strategist, Rich Fink.
The country was headed toward bankruptcy, they agreed. Fink told them bluntly that Obama’s administration represented the worst of what Charles and David fear most: a bloated, regulation-heavy, free-spending government that could plunge the country into another deep recession. That day, Fink advised two of the richest men in the nation that it would be the fight of their lives to stop the government spending spree and to change the course of the country, starting with the 2012 election.
“If we are going to do this, we should do it right or not at all,” Fink, 61, recalled telling the brothers. “But if we don’t do it right or if we don’t do it at all, we will be insignificant and we will just waste a lot of time and I would rather play golf.
“And if we do it right, then it is going to get very, very ugly.”
Three and a half years later, Obama accused the Koch brothers of engineering “a corporate takeover of our democracy.”
The brothers’ political spending and the network of conservative political organizations and think tanks they fund have sparked protests. The condemnations and criticism prompted Charles Koch to break his silence about politics. In his most extensive interview in 15 years, Charles Koch talked about why he wants to defeat Obama and elect members of Congress who will stop what he calls catastrophic overspending.
Government recklessness threatens the country and his business, he said.
The Kochs say the price for their involvement has been high: Death threats, cyberattacks on their business, hundreds of news stories criticizing them, calls for boycotts of the company’s consumer goods, and what the brothers see as ongoing and public attacks from the Obama administration.
The Kochs aren’t finished. Win or lose in November, they plan to start a new fight. They are organizing dozens of business and grass roots groups to build support for eliminating all corporate and agricultural subsidies.
Agriculture is a major industry in the United States and the country is a net exporter of food. As of the last census of agriculture in 2007, there were 2.2 million farms, covering an area of 922 million acres (373 million hectares), an average of 418 acres (170 hectares) per farm.
Ending agricultural subsidies would mean that American businesses would have to raise their prices and USA farmers would not be able to compete with cheap and inferior and unsafe imports.
* American diary farms would be impacted
* American vegetable and fruit farms would would be impacted
* American grain farms for human would be impacted
* American pork, beef and chicken farms would be impacted
* American nut farms would be impacted
* American fiber producers (cotton, wool, wood etc) would be impacted
* American gasoline would be impacted
There are many more that industries that would impacted.
40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act
October 17, 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource. Every person deserves clean water – it is vital for our health, communities, environment and economy. We have made great progress in reducing pollution during the past 40 years. But many challenges remain and we must work together to protect clean water for our families and future generations. Everyone has an impact on the water and we are all responsible for making a difference.
Our rivers, streams and lakes provide not only drinking water but a place for recreation and critical avenues for economic development and growth in our cities and towns. When our waters become unhealthy and polluted — or we are cut off from local waterways by poorly placed roads, highways and industrial infrastructure — we cannot take full advantage of the economic, environmental and social assets that our waters provide. President Obama believes that all Americans deserve access to clean rivers, streams and lakes, and that a community’s economy and health benefit from such access. He also believes that it is our job as the federal government to support communities as they develop visions for growth, development and use of natural resources, while coordinating federal investments so that we are getting the most out of every dollar.
The Obama Administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe, water we drink, and land that supports and sustains us. From restoring ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay and the Everglades, to reducing mercury pollution from power plants, we are bringing together Federal agencies to tackle America’s greatest environmental challenges.
Recovery Act Investments in our Environment
The Recovery Act included unprecedented funding for programs and projects that will protect the environment. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior alone oversee nearly $11 billion in Recovery Act funding for projects that vary from green job training to marine habitat restoration to water quality improvements. These investments are supporting technological advances in science and health and improving environmental protection and infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits for Americans.
Protecting Our Oceans
President Obama has established the first comprehensive National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes. America’s oceans and coastal regions support tens of millions of jobs and contribute trillions of dollars a year to the national economy. The National Ocean Policy helps us prioritize our efforts and resources to address the most critical issues facing our oceans and establishes a comprehensive, collaborative, regionally based planning process to ensure healthy ocean and coastal resources for the many communities and economies that rely on and enjoy them.
When he signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, President Obama marked the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation, designating more than 2 million acres of federal wilderness, thousands of miles of trails, and protecting more than 1,000 miles of rivers. The President also used his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, as a national monument, protecting a site of historic significance for slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military.
President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to work with the American people to develop a community-based conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century. Through this initiative, the Administration is opening up access to millions of acres for recreation, making historic investments in restoring critical landscapes, and supporting an outdoor economy that includes approximately 9 million jobs and $1 trillion in economic activity.
Prioritizing Clean Water
The Administration is taking comprehensive action to ensure the integrity of the waters Americans rely on every day for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and that support farming, recreation, tourism and economic growth. We have issued draft Federal guidance to clarify which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act nationwide; launched innovative partnerships and programs to improve water quality and water efficiency; and created initiatives to revitalize communities and economies by restoring rivers and critical watersheds. The Administration has also proposed to modernize the guidelines that govern Federal water resource planning, calling for water resources projects based on sound science, improved transparency, and consideration of the variety of community benefits of projects.
Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Mountaintop Coal Mining
Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by EPA, the Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers on June 11, 2009, Federal agencies are taking action to minimize adverse environmental and health impacts of mountaintop coal mining.
Reducing Air Pollution
Curbing Vehicle Pollution
The Obama Administration is aggressively working to reduce pollution in the air we breathe. We have proposed historic fuel economy standards that will double the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks by 2025, saving consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump and eliminating 6 billion metric tons of carbon pollution. The Administration has also finalized the first-ever national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial trucks, vans, and buses built in 2014-2018, which are projected to save more than 500 million barrels of oil and an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs.
Cleaning up Toxic Air Pollution
The Administration established the first-ever national limits for mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants, which will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms each year. This rule follows a series of EPA actions to reduce emissions from power plants and other large emitters, including a rule to cut soot and smog-forming pollution from power plants that create health problems downwind, and rules to limit mercury and other pollution for the largest sources of industrial air pollution, such as cement plants, industrial boilers, and waste incinerators.
The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that communities overburdened by pollution – particularly minority, low-income and indigenous communities – have the opportunity to enjoy the health and economic benefits of a clean environment. After more than a decade of inaction, the Administration reconvened the Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group and engaged more than 100 environmental justice leaders at a White House forum. Federal agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding formally committing to environmental justice, and released strategies for integrating environmental justice into federal decision-making and programs in areas such as transportation, labor, health services, housing and others.
Supporting Sustainable Communities
The Administration created the historic Partnership for Sustainable Communities to break down traditional silos among the Federal agencies for housing, transportation, and environmental protection. Through 2011, this partnership announced more than $1.7 billion in funding to support resilient economies, healthy environments and quality of life in more than 550 communities and regions across the country.
Modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act
The Administration is modernizing and reinvigorating the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to help ensure transparency, public engagement and accountability in Federal decisions about actions that may affect the quality of the environment. This includes an initiative to improve the quality and efficiency of Federal environmental reviews to protect the health of communities, support a strong American economy, and engage Americans in decisions that will impact their environment.
Reducing Global Emissions of Mercury
The United States played a leading role in crafting an agreement among more than 140 nations to negotiate a legally binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions globally, which is scheduled to be finalized in 2013. The Administration’s actions to reduce toxic mercury pollution in the U.S. – including establishing the first-ever mercury standards for power plants — give the U.S. additional credibility to lead in this global effort to improve public health.