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At a Democratic fundraiser earlier in the week, President Barack Obama stated that he doesn't have "much patience for people who deny climate change." This aligns well with OFA's current strategy of calling out climate deniers, which I've criticized in the past.  If he had no patience for them, why should OFA focus its attention on them, rather than rallying around constructive solutions like the Boxer-Sanders bill?  To my knowledge, Obama hasn't said a word about the Boxer-Sanders bill even though it was endorsed by the Center for American Progress, which has close ties to the administration. Rather, Jay Carney has on multiple occasions dismissed the idea of a carbon tax as a nonstarter.

Obama may have "no time" for climate deniers, but he certainly has a lot of time for procrastinators, like himself.

The EPA is required to regulate carbon from existing power plants because the Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that CO2 qualifies as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act and the EPA issued an endangerment finding in 2009 stating that CO2 is a threat to public health. Even though the EPA's rules for existing power plants were proposed in April 2012 and were scheduled for finalization on April 13 of this year, the EPA has chosen to delay the implementation of the rules.

Obama has kept delaying his ultimate decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a project which brings carbon-intensive tar sands oil and which would exacerbate climate change.  He has refused to acknowledge directly the climate impact of the project, which would hold no bearing in an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy.  Lisa Jackson's departure from the EPA was viewed as a protest against the expected stamp of approval from the administration, and the State Department's review was plagued by conflicts of interest.  Obama has also publicly expressed willingness to approve the project.  In a speech in March 2012 in Oklahoma, Obama announced,

Now, right now, a company called TransCanada has applied to build a new pipeline to speed more oil from Cushing to state-of-the-art refineries down on the Gulf Coast.  And today, I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done.
The speech, like too many of Obama's speeches on energy, sounded like "drill, baby, drill."

Obama's budget largely dodges the issue of climate change. Last month, Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker highlighted the noticeable absence and the disconnect between rhetoric and concrete action:

But the budget released this week makes it clear that Obama’s surprising appeal to Congress was an empty piece of rhetoric. The phrase “climate change” appears twenty-nine times in the new budget, but there is no new plan for Congress to take up in Obama’s otherwise ambitious legislative blueprint. There are some worthy energy initiatives that could achieve modest reductions in emissions, but the budget is silent on what Obama will do to aggressively reduce carbon pollution by the biggest emitters, like power plants and automobiles.
Ryan Lizza also had a great piece in the New Yorker back in 2010 on the failure of the Senate's climate bill. The House had managed to pass a climate bill (the Waxman-Markey bill, or American Clean Energy and Security Act) by a hair in June 2009---a vote of 219 to 212.  It managed to pass only by watering down certain provisions, offering giveaways to key special interests, and managing to win over a handful of Republicans to push it over the needed majority.  Pelosi showed great leadership, but with only 211 Democrats voting for it, it wouldn't have passed without the 8 moderate Republicans who joined forces.  However, the Senate bill came to naught.  Obama stayed largely hands-off during the negotiating process, and Kerry and Lieberman offered concession after concession to key business and fossil fuel interests to win over a few moderate Republicans--all to no avail. Obama's lack of communication with the lead Senators on the bill helped to exacerbate the overall dysfunction by giving up a bargaining chip (offshore drilling) before any promise was secured out of the other party.  Lizza wrote,
"But there had been no communication with the senators actually writing the bill. ... Obama had now given away what the senators were planning to trade. This was the third time that the White House had blundered [in this way]. ... Obama had served the dessert before the children even promised to eat their spinach. Graham was the only Republican negotiating on the climate bill, and now he had virtually nothing left to take to his Republican colleagues."
Since the failure of the Senate climate bill, Obama has had plenty of patience for climate inaction on the Hill.

As indicated above, he has certainly been no opponent of offshore drilling. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as other regions of the planet.  Obama's solution?  Open it up to drilling.

The Obama administration has also protected fewer public lands from oil and gas production than Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, and Dubya, and BLM held three of its five largest-ever lease sales for drilling rights in 2011.

The driller-in-chief has been a strong proponent of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a process to extract shale gas.  Fracking emits large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere because fracked wells leak 40 to 60 percent more methane than conventional natural gas wells.

Obama's campaign website (now the OFA website) still touts the chimera of "clean coal" as part of an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy.

With his consistent focus on markets that haven't delivered and technology that does not yet exist rather than regulation, he often seems to echo the 2008 Republican Party platform on climate.

It's nice to know that Obama agrees with 99% of climatologists and doesn't see the existence of climate change as a subject of debate.  But that "debate" should have ended decades ago. What we need now is long-overdue action.

Originally posted to Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees on Sat Jun 01, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Agree completely. (10+ / 0-)

    He's had patience for procrastinators AND he's done it himself, teasing along KXL.  

    "If you go all day without hitting or biting anyone, it was a good day." Patrick, age 4

    by Meggie on Sat Jun 01, 2013 at 06:15:15 AM PDT

  •  Obama has put himself between a rock (9+ / 0-)

    and an oil well by his hesitancy to rock the boat of big corporations for fear of rocking the economic boat. His administration has done nothing about the big bank frauds or the big corporation raiding of our tax policies in order to avoid paying taxes. In order to placate the thugs, he has thrown many of our important environmental issues whose solutions should be absolute onto a big poker table.

    On top of that, he's the kind of negotiator who comes to the strip poker table with his shirt already off.

  •  Fav Admin Quote (1+ / 0-)

    "There is no there there!"

  •  I don't know what to think now (5+ / 0-)

    The admin and Obama seem to be all over the place on this issue.

    It seems to me that we could interpret the mixed signals about the KXL decision in several ways. First, it may be our worst nightmare: that this is all a big rope-a-dope to the DFHs and Obama has already decided and has simply merely delayed the announcement for a politically opportune moment to reduce the fallout.

    The second possibility is that, due to the unexpected strength of opposition he is on the fence about it and/or there is a debate going on within the Admin about how to thread the needle between the demands of Big Energy and the KXL opposition. In that case we may see anything from approval with "conditions", to more delay (perhaps pushing the decision past the 2014 elections?) to a KXL turn down accompanied by some sort of concession to the oil industry.

    We have seen both paths play out in this administration. Obama is a self-styled Pragmatist first and foremost, which means he will defer to power but also bend whichever way the political wind blows. It's unnerving to think that such a person is in a position to make such fateful decisions.

    History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce - Karl Marx

    by quill on Sat Jun 01, 2013 at 07:59:03 AM PDT

  •  Delay is denial... (4+ / 0-)

    ...I have one nitpick with this otherwise compelling and telling analysis:

    Obama has kept delaying his ultimate decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, which would exacerbate climate change.
    While I am not sanguine about what his eventual decision may be, the fact of the matter is, there is mandated process at work here. And that process, the EIS, the SEIS, the public comments and the required response by the State Department in the Final EIS/SEIS to those comments, followed by the presidential permit process and possible additional public comments take time. We should not push from the (eco)-left the way the right is pushing to short-circuit that process.

    (Yes, I know that some believe the process to be nothing more than window-dressing for a presidential decision we who oppose the pipeline will hate.)

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Sat Jun 01, 2013 at 09:39:16 AM PDT

    •  Updated (0+ / 0-)

      I updated the language around Keystone to include a few extra links and comments. I found his speech in Oklahoma year ago particularly worrisome: "And today, I'm directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done."

      As it stands, he should not preempt the EPA's review that has been established; however, we have been reading for the past three years about imminent decisions followed by delays and a possible delay now until 2014.

      •  Thanks for the update. I don't expect a decision.. (1+ / 0-)

        ...before mid-summer at the earliest. But a surprise can always appear.

        Amid the hope for a surprise thumbs-down, the movement should be planning the next step. McKibben's never got only one project going at a time because there are so many things to do.

        He's been criticized here at Daily Kos for putting so much stake on defeating KXL. But tough battles aren't won by being half-assed about it, and nobody can say this battle is not worthwhile.

        The Keystone activism and associated educational process has brought together many people. Intersectionality among mostly white eco-activists, First Nations peoples and farmers is a good thing. But we need unions. Most have not been our allies in this fight.

        So one of the post-decision tasks will be to rebuild the blue-green alliance weakened by split between blue and green over Keystone. If whatever happens were to harden this difference of opinion into something more permanent, it would be very, very bad. The economy and the environment are not two separate entities. Good jobs and fighting to reduce at least some of the wreckage we know is coming from climate change are not inimical to one another.

        In addition, we need to be ready to move on to new action whether in victory or defeat over KWL.If we should unexpectedly win, there is so much more work to do. If we lose, more so still.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Sat Jun 01, 2013 at 02:56:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This issue requires Obama take a stand, which (3+ / 0-)

    is an anathema to him.  When has he actually done that in an unambiguous fashion on a big issue?  (Hint: You should need one hand with a less than complement of five fingers.)  He states preferences, takes a negotiable position, might say things like he has no patience for those on the extreme of an issue, but rarely does he take a clear-cut stand.  After all, why would one expect someone who recognizes they are a Rorschach ink blot to people to ever be identified with a high degree of certainty on an issue.

    This is a tough one for Obama because the XL decision is a yes/no one unless he finds a way to straddle it and deflect responsibility for it, something he is a master at doing.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Sat Jun 01, 2013 at 09:51:20 AM PDT

  •  Don't tell me what you believe (1+ / 0-)

    tell me what you do, and I'll tell you what you believe.

    Looking at Obama's actions, he pretty much is a denialist.

    Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

    by Mindful Nature on Sat Jun 01, 2013 at 10:54:17 AM PDT

  •  In reality, climate change is the only real issue. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WheninRome, Calamity Jean

    If we don't get it under control, the civilization of the next century will be a dystopia.

    •  If there's any at all. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ...the civilization of the next century will be a dystopia.  
      There's the possibility that we've collectively committed our slow-motion suicide.  

      Renewable energy brings national global security.     

      by Calamity Jean on Sat Jun 01, 2013 at 08:26:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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