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President Obama Throws Down The Gauntlet on Climate Change

We were told we would like what we heard and in the end it proved so. Dramatically so. President Obama has laid down a gauntlet or two on energy policy and climate change. It didn’t look so promising at first:

We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in twenty.

The theme was, as promised, budget, economy, job creation and the principle of a growing and thriving middle class:

It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class:

A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts. Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores?

Applause at State of the Union Feb 2013The President used investment in science and technology and its proven record of job creation to lead into energy policy. Energy independence, increased oil production, natural gas production. It was starting to look like more ‘all of the above’. But then it came….. and if the President means what he says and if he is prepared to stand up to those who choose to defy the “overwhelming judgment of science” then we do indeed like what we hear:

Yes, 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, and floods – all are now more frequent and 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.

President Obama State of the Union Feb 2013The good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to 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. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. We’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – so let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.

In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.

Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long. I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.

These are real policies for progress. This says ‘this where we are, this is where we need to get, and this is how we are going to get there.’ Most important of all, the President is saying ‘work with me, that is what I want. But if you don’t, this is happening anyway. It is that important.’

We are told 70% of Americans want action on climate change. Now it is time for that 70% to make its voice heard and show support for a program aimed at job creation and economic growth through investment in the science and technology which can pull our heads out of the sand and face up to the dangers of climate change.

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