Obama strong on climate, Cantwell encouraged

Source: Seattle PI

Seattle PI - Joel Connelly

President Obama talked tough on climate change and sustainable energy in his second inaugural address, voicing an emphatic commitment to act that some “green” advocates have seen as lacking during the 44th President’s first term.

“The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult, but American cannot resist this transition:  We must lead it.  That is how we will preserve our planet, committed to our care by God,” Obama declared.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., an outspoken advocate for new energy sources — who helped put a wind energy tax credit into the “fiscal cliff” deal — sensed in the speech a springtime for climate action in Obama’s second administration.

“The climate at the White House for climate legislation may be changing:  It’s clear we have made significant progress toward cleaner energy without hurting our economy:  The President’s remarks today signaled he might be ready to make this a key priority of his second term,” said Cantwell.

Obama seemed to lay it on the line, and take a veiled swipe at climate change deniers.

“Some may still deny the overwhelming judging of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms,” he said.  “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

Gov. Jay Inslee, who made “green” energy a theme of his fall campaign, wrote on his Facebook page:  “Glad to know we have a committed partner in the White House to help move us forward on jobs and clean energy.  Looking forward to a productive partnership in these next four years.”

Environmentalists had a spectacular run of victories in last November’s election, including election of  “green” energy champion Jay Inslee as Governor of Washington.  A bevy of new U.S. Senators were elected with support from the League of Conservation Voters.  The main anti-environmental force in Washington, D.C. — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — spent millions in “SuperPAC” ads but saw its candidates go down to defeat from Massachusetts to Hawaii.

Vice President Joe Biden put in a surprise appearance at a Sunday night “Green Ball” put on by environmental groups in Washington, D.C.

“I’ll tell you what my green dream is, that we finally face up to climate change,” Biden said to whoops from the audience.

In another poke at climate change deniers — such politicians as Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas — Biden added:  “There is science in the White House.”

The Obama administration did negotiate a deal with Detroit that will more than double fuel efficiency standards for new automobiles and SUVs.  The Environmental Protection Agency has begun to set rules to limit the emission of so-called greenhouse gases by power plants.

Still, the President pulled the rug out from rules to reduce ozone pollution that were proposed by Environmental Protection Administrator Lisa Jackson.  Ozone pollution is the prime cause of smog.

Jackson has resigned.  Outgoing Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, a former state Department of Ecology director, is a prime candidate to replace her.

Curiously, major environmental groups had little immediate reaction to Obama’s speech.  Not so ex-Vice President Al Gore, who started talking about human-caused climate change at about the time of the first President Bush’s inauguration 24 years ago.

“Great to hear President Obama call for climate action in today’s inaugural address:  Congrats Mr. President,” Gore tweeted.

Biden, at the Green Ball, had one more message for greens who cheered him:   “Keep the faith.”