State of the Union Address Pushes Energy Independence and Lower Emissions Initiatives; Here’s What Environmental Groups Had to Say
President Obama made a bold declaration during the 2014 State of the Union Address when he said, “Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.” The President outlined his plans to lower emissions, promote clean energy, and drive the nation toward energy independence.
Although only five minutes of the 65-minute State of the Union Address focused on climate change, the President devoted most of the time to touting the federal government’s successes. “Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over
the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth,” Obama stated. However, the environmental community largely agrees that this progress is not enough.
True, Obama described the U.S. as a “leader in solar energy”; the President told the nation that more and more houses rely on solar energy, and the solar energy industry is creating vast numbers of American jobs that will not be outsourced. However, “Coal, nuclear power, and wind—sources responsible for 60 percent of the nation’s electricity generation—received no mention,” National Geographic reports.
Moreover, ABC News reveals that as many as 18 separate environmental groups firmly believe that there are troubling holes in Obama’s policies. “The heads of 18 environmental groups went public recently with a complaint they have privately pressed the White House on for months: Obama’s support of expanded oil and gas production doesn’t make sense for a president who wants to reduce global warming pollution,” ABC said. During the State of the Union Address, Obama stated that the U.S. now produces more oil internally than it imports. The President did not say how the shift impacts emissions and pollution.
Obama made a brief — and elusive — reference to “tough choices along the way.” Whether that refers to ongoing decisions about routing a pipeline with Canadian tar sands oil, drilling exploration, or other issues is anyone’s guess.
Obama’s State of the Union Address and convenient silences therein, however, may not be the most troubling news for the environmental community. Recent news coverage of the polar vortex reaffirms that many Americans believe that climate change, particularly global warming, is a myth. “Sen James Inhofe, R-Okla., said this month’s cold spell ‘has to make everyone question … whether global warming was ever real,’” USA Today reports. USA Today adds that the percentage of Americans who acknowledge the facts behind global warming declined more than 10% in just one year, from 2011 to 2012.
USA Today cites recent findings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: “Earth had its fourth-warmest year on record in 2013, and all of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998… That warming is already raising sea levels, acidifying oceans, melting glaciers and intensifying heat waves, downpours, droughts, and wildfires.”