Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hopes for Environmental Action in President Obama's Second Term

President Obama's second term will likely be more audacious than his first. In the President's own words, "the best is yet to come." In his first term, President Obama laid down stricter fuel economy standards and through the EPA more stringent requirements for coal plants. In his victory speech the President said, “We want our kids to grow up in an America… that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

Now that the President's environmental achievements from the first term are safe, we can expect more from the President in his second term. Optimism springs from the fact that the President does not have to face another election which frees him to undertake bolder action on the environment, climate change and clean energy.

Here are eight things the President can support to show leadership on the environment:

1. EPA Regulations: Going forward the EPA may set and enforce clear rules for pollution under the Clean Air Act including carbon dioxide regulation, ground-level ozone pollution (smog) and toxic coal ash waste from power plants.

2. Fracking: One of the more contentious issues involves the regulation of the natural gas mining technique known as "fracking."

3. Wind Power Tax Credits: President Obama is likely to try to extend the federal tax credits for wind power which are due to expire at the end of 2012.

4. Clean Energy Standard: President Obama has indicated that he wants to move forward with a clean energy standard that would require utilities to get a greater portion of their electricity from renewable sources of power.

5. Coal: Close many of the nation’s coal plants, put an end to mountaintop removal, and prevent coal from being shipped overseas.

6. Oil Subsidies: Putting an end to oil subsidies would help to create renewable energy price parity.

7. Tar Sands: The president may move away from tar-sands oil and reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

8.Carbon tax: This may be difficult, but a carbon tax is a cost-effective means of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If the president were to impose carbon taxes it would go a long way to help make GHG emitters more accountable.

However, hope for President Obama's second term are tempered by the likelihood of continued obstructionism from the GOP. The Republicans still control the House and this remains a serious hurdle to the President's environmental efforts.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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