Full Text Obama Presidency February 18, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Fuel Efficiency Standards of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Fuel Efficiency Standards of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles

Source: WH, 2-18-14 

Safeway Distribution Center
Upper Marlboro, Maryland

11:30 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, good morning, everybody.  (Applause.)  It is good to be here.  And I want to thank Jack Jacobs and all the folks at Safeway for having us here today, at this busy distribution center where delivery trucks get everything from Doritos to diapers where they need to go.  And by the way, I have a little soft spot for Safeway in my heart because some of you know I went to high school in Hawaii and I was living with my grandparents, and our main grocery store was Safeway.  It was right down the way.  (Applause.)  And so my grandmother would send me out to go shopping at Safeway, and everybody there always treated me very well.  So I very much appreciate the good work you guys do.

And I want to thank all the workers and businesspeople and labor leaders and environmental leaders who are here today as we take another big step to grow our economy and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.

In my State of the Union address, I said that this would be a year of action, and I meant it.  So over the past three weeks, I’ve acted to require federal contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour, because we believe in a higher minimum wage.  (Applause.)  I’ve ordered an across-the-board reform of job training programs so we can train workers with the skills that employers actually need and match them to the good jobs that are out there right now needing to be filled.  I directed the Treasury Secretary to create something we’re calling “myRA” — it’s a new way to help working Americans start saving for retirement.  And we’ve brought together business leaders who’ve committed to helping more unemployed Americans find work, no matter how long they’ve been looking.

So the point is I’m eager to work with Congress wherever I can — but whenever I can act on my own to expand opportunity for more Americans and help build our middle class, I’m going to do that.

And all of you I think understand that although the economy has been doing better, we’ve spent the past five years fighting our way back from the worst recession of our lifetimes.  Now, the economy is growing.  Our businesses have created over 8.5 million new jobs over the past four years.  The unemployment rate is actually the lowest it’s been in over five years.  But the trends, the long-term trends that have hurt middle-class families for decades have continued — folks at the top doing better than ever before; average wages and incomes have barely budged.  Too many Americans are working harder than ever just to keep up.

So our job is to not only get the economy growing but also to reverse these trends and make sure that everybody can succeed.  We’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just the fortunate few.  Opportunity for all — that’s the essence of America.  No matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter how you start out, if you’re willing to work hard and take responsibility, you can succeed.

So I’ve laid out an opportunity agenda to help us do that.  Part one is create more new jobs that pay good wages — jobs in manufacturing, energy, exports, innovation.  Part two, we’ve got to train folks with the skills they need to fill those jobs.  Part three, we’ve got to guarantee every child access to a world-class education.  Part four is making sure that the economy rewards hard work with equal pay for equal work and wages you can live on, savings you can retire on, health insurance you can count on that’s there when you need it.

Now, there are very few factors that are helping grow our economy more, bringing more good jobs back to America than our commitment to American manufacturing and American energy.  And that’s why we’re here today.

Five years ago, we set out to break our dependence on foreign oil.  And today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.  For the first time in nearly 20 years, America produces more oil here at home than we buy from other countries.  Our levels of dangerous carbon pollution that contributes to climate change has actually gone down even as our production has gone up.  And one of the reasons why is because we dedicated ourselves to manufacturing new cars and new trucks that go farther on a gallon of gas — and that saves families money, it cuts down harmful pollution, and it creates new advances in American technology.

So for decades, the fuel efficiency standards of our cars and trucks was stuck in neutral even as other kinds of technology leapt forward.  And that left families and businesses and our economy vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices.  Every time oil prices shot up the economy got hurt.  Our automakers were in danger of being left in the dust by foreign automakers.  Carbon pollution was going unchecked, which was having severe impacts on our weather.

And that’s why, after taking office, my administration worked with automakers, autoworkers, environmental advocates, and states across the country, and we set in motion the first-ever national policy aimed at both increasing gas mileage and decreasing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks sold in the United States.  And as our automakers retooled and prepared to start making the world’s best cars again, we aimed to raise fuel economy standards to 35.5 miles per gallon for a new vehicle by 2016.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Wow!

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, wow.  (Laughter and applause.)

That was an increase of more than eight miles per gallon over what cars had averaged at the time.  And what we were clear about was if you set a rule, if you set a clear goal, we would give our companies the certainty that they needed to innovate and out-build the rest of the world.  They could figure it out if they had a goal that they were trying to reach.  And thanks to their ingenuity and hard work, we’re going to meet that goal.

Two years later, we’ve already seen enormous progress, and we’re building on that progress by setting an even more ambitious target:  We’re going to double the distance our cars and light trucks can go on a gallon of gas by 2025.  We’re going to double it.  And that means — (applause) — that’s big news.  Because what it means is you’ve got to fill up every two weeks instead of every week, and that saves the typical family more than $8,000 at the pump over time.  I’m assuming you can use $8,000 — (laughter and applause) — that you’re not paying at the gas station.  And, in the process, it cuts American oil consumption by 12 billion barrels.

So we let the automakers decide how they were going to do it.  We set the goal and we said, go figure it out.  And they invested in innovative and cost-effective technologies.  And some are already making cars that beat the target of nearly 55 miles per gallon.  They’ve got plug-in hybrids.  They’ve got electric vehicles.  They’re taking advantage of the investments that the Recovery Act made in American advances in battery technology.  So cars are getting better and they’re getting more fuel-efficient all the time.

And for anybody who said this couldn’t be done or that it would hurt the American auto industry, the American auto industry sold more cars last year than any time since 2007.  (Applause.)  And since we stepped in to help the automakers retool, the American auto industry has created almost 425,000 new jobs.

So we raised fuel efficiency, helped consumers, helped improve air quality, and we’re making better cars than ever and the automakers are hiring more folks again for good jobs all across the country.  (Applause.)  More plants are running at full capacity — some are even running three shifts, 24 hours a day — churning out some of the most high-tech, fuel-efficient, high-performance cars in the world.

And that’s a story of American ingenuity, American grit, and everybody has a right to be proud of it.  But today we’re taking the next step.

Heavy-duty trucks account for just 4 percent of all the vehicles on the highway.  I know when you’re driving sometimes it feels like it’s more — (laughter) — but they’re only 4 percent of all the vehicles.  But they’re responsible for about 20 percent of carbon pollution in the transportation sector.  So trucks like these are responsible for about 20 percent of our on-road fuel consumption.  And because they haul about 70 percent of all domestic freight — 70 percent of the stuff we use, everything from flat-screen TVs to diapers to produce to you name it — every mile that we gain in fuel efficiency is worth thousands of dollars of savings every year.

So that’s why we’re investing in research to get more fuel economy gains.  And thanks to a partnership between industry and my administration, the truck behind me was able to achieve a 75 percent improvement in fuel economy over the last year — 75 percent.  That’s why we call this “SuperTruck.”  (Laughter.)  It’s impressive, this one right here, as well.  I mean, these are — first of all, they’re really big.  (Laughter.)  But you can see how they’ve redesigned the truck in order for us to save fuel economy.

And improving gas mileage for these trucks are going to drive down our oil imports even further.  That reduces carbon pollution even more, cuts down on businesses’ fuel costs, which should pay off in lower prices for consumers.  So it’s not just a win-win, it’s a win-win-win.  You’ve got three wins.

AUDIENCE:  Right!

THE PRESIDENT:  In 2011, we set new standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that take effect this year and last until 2018.  Three weeks ago, in my State of the Union address, I said we’d build on that success.  Today, I’m directing the Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, who is right here — former mayor of Charlotte — (applause) — and Gina McCarthy, the Administrator of EPA — (applause) — two outstanding public servants — their charge, their goal is to develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks that will take us well into the next decade, just like our cars.  And they’re going to partner with manufacturers and autoworkers and states and other stakeholders, truckers, to come up with a proposal by March of next year, and they’ll complete the rule a year after that.

And businesses that buy these types of trucks have sent a clear message to the nearly 30,000 workers who build them:  We want trucks that use less oil, save more money, cut pollution.  So far, 23 companies have joined our National Clean Fleets Partnership to reduce their oil consumption or replace their old fleets of trucks with more fuel-efficient models.  And, collectively, they operate about 1 million commercial vehicles nationwide.

So this is a lot of companies, and some of them are competitors.  And if rivals like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, or UPS and FedEx, or AT&T and Verizon — if they can join together on this, then maybe Democrats and Republicans can do the same.  (Applause.)  Maybe Democrats and Republicans can get together.  (Applause.)

So when you see these companies’ new electric or natural gas-powered delivery or garbage trucks, it’s due to this partnership.  And the reason we’re here is because Safeway was an early leader on this issue.  By improving the aerodynamics of its trucks, investing in larger trailers, more efficient tires, Safeway has improved its own fuel efficiency.  And the results are so solid that Safeway now encourages all the companies it hires to ship its products to do the same.

So to help our businesses and manufacturers meet this new goal, we’re offering new tax credits — both for companies that manufacture heavy-duty alternative-fuel vehicles and those that build fuel infrastructure so that trucks running on biodiesel or natural gas or hybrid electric technology, they’ll have more places to fill up.

Let me say this.  The goal we’re setting is ambitious, but these are areas where ambition has worked out really well for us so far.  Don’t make small plans, make big plans.  And anybody who had dire predictions for the auto industry, said we couldn’t do it, manufacturers couldn’t bring jobs back to America — every time they say that they’re proven wrong.  Every time somebody says you can’t grow the economy while bringing down pollution, it’s turned out they’ve been wrong.  (Applause.)  Anybody who says we can’t compete when it comes to clean energy technologies like solar and wind, they’ve had to eat those words.  You can’t bet against American workers or American industry.  You can’t bet against America.  Otherwise you’re going to lose money every time, because we know how to do this when we set broad, ambitious goals for ourselves.  (Applause.)

So from day one, we’ve known we had to rebuild our economy and transition to a clean-energy future, and we knew it wouldn’t be easy or quick, and we’ve got a lot of work to do on both counts.  But the economy is growing.  We’re creating jobs.  We’re generating more clean energy.  We’re cutting our dependence on foreign oil.  We’re pumping out less dangerous carbon pollution.  If we keep going down this road, then we’re going to have a future full of good-paying jobs.

We’ve got assembly lines that are humming with the components of a clean energy age.  We got more of the best trucks and cars in the world designed and engineered and made in America.

If we keep on going, we’re going to leave a better future for our children.  And I’m proud of Safeway and all its workers for helping to show us the way.  If it can be done here, it can be done all across the country.

So congratulations to all of you.  Thank you and God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
11:47 A.M. EST

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Full Text Obama Presidency June 25, 2013: President Barack Obama’s Speech Unveiling Climate Change Plan

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President on Climate Change

Source: WH, 6-25-13

Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

President Obama delivered remarks at Georgetown University on Tuesday.

Georgetown University
Washington, D.C.

1:45 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  (Applause.)  Thank you, Georgetown!  Thank you so much.  Everybody, please be seated.  And my first announcement today is that you should all take off your jackets.  (Laughter.)  I’m going to do the same.  (Applause.)  It’s not that sexy, now.  (Laughter.)

It is good to be back on campus, and it is a great privilege to speak from the steps of this historic hall that welcomed Presidents going back to George Washington.

I want to thank your president, President DeGioia, who’s here today.   (Applause.)  I want to thank him for hosting us.  I want to thank the many members of my Cabinet and my administration.  I want to thank Leader Pelosi and the members of Congress who are here.  We are very grateful for their support.

And I want to say thank you to the Hoyas in the house for having me back.  (Applause.)  It was important for me to speak directly to your generation, because the decisions that we make now and in the years ahead will have a profound impact on the world that all of you inherit.

On Christmas Eve, 1968, the astronauts of Apollo 8 did a live broadcast from lunar orbit.  So Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, William Anders — the first humans to orbit the moon -– described what they saw, and they read Scripture from the Book of Genesis to the rest of us back here.  And later that night, they took a photo that would change the way we see and think about our world.

It was an image of Earth -– beautiful; breathtaking; a glowing marble of blue oceans, and green forests, and brown mountains brushed with white clouds, rising over the surface of the moon.

And while the sight of our planet from space might seem routine today, imagine what it looked like to those of us seeing our home, our planet, for the first time.  Imagine what it looked like to children like me.  Even the astronauts were amazed.  “It makes you realize,” Lovell would say, “just what you have back there on Earth.”

And around the same time we began exploring space, scientists were studying changes taking place in the Earth’s atmosphere.  Now, scientists had known since the 1800s that greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap heat, and that burning fossil fuels release those gases into the air.  That wasn’t news. But in the late 1950s, the National Weather Service began measuring the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, with the worry that rising levels might someday disrupt the fragile balance that makes our planet so hospitable.  And what they’ve found, year after year, is that the levels of carbon pollution in our atmosphere have increased dramatically.

That science, accumulated and reviewed over decades, tells us that our planet is changing in ways that will have profound impacts on all of humankind.

The 12 warmest years in recorded history have all come in the last 15 years.  Last year, temperatures in some areas of the ocean reached record highs, and ice in the Arctic shrank to its smallest size on record — faster than most models had predicted it would.  These are facts.

Now, we know that no single weather event is caused solely by climate change.  Droughts and fires and floods, they go back to ancient times.  But we also know that in a world that’s warmer than it used to be, all weather events are affected by a warming planet.  The fact that sea level in New York, in New York Harbor, are now a foot higher than a century ago — that didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it certainly contributed to the destruction that left large parts of our mightiest city dark and underwater.

The potential impacts go beyond rising sea levels.  Here at home, 2012 was the warmest year in our history.  Midwest farms were parched by the worst drought since the Dust Bowl, and then drenched by the wettest spring on record.  Western wildfires scorched an area larger than the state of Maryland.  Just last week, a heat wave in Alaska shot temperatures into the 90s.

And we know that the costs of these events can be measured in lost lives and lost livelihoods, lost homes, lost businesses, hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency services and disaster relief.  In fact, those who are already feeling the effects of climate change don’t have time to deny it — they’re busy dealing with it.  Firefighters are braving longer wildfire seasons, and states and federal governments have to figure out how to budget for that.  I had to sit on a meeting with the Department of Interior and Agriculture and some of the rest of my team just to figure out how we’re going to pay for more and more expensive fire seasons.

Farmers see crops wilted one year, washed away the next; and the higher food prices get passed on to you, the American consumer.  Mountain communities worry about what smaller snowpacks will mean for tourism — and then, families at the bottom of the mountains wonder what it will mean for their drinking water.  Americans across the country are already paying the price of inaction in insurance premiums, state and local taxes, and the costs of rebuilding and disaster relief.

So the question is not whether we need to act.  The overwhelming judgment of science — of chemistry and physics and millions of measurements — has put all that to rest.  Ninety-seven percent of scientists, including, by the way, some who originally disputed the data, have now put that to rest.  They’ve acknowledged the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it.

So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late.  And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.

As a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act.  (Applause.)

I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing.  And that’s why, today, I’m announcing a new national climate action plan, and I’m here to enlist your generation’s help in keeping the United States of America a leader — a global leader — in the fight against climate change.

This plan builds on progress that we’ve already made.  Last year, I took office — the year that I took office, my administration pledged to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent from their 2005 levels by the end of this decade.  And we rolled up our sleeves and we got to work. We doubled the electricity we generated from wind and the sun.  We doubled the mileage our cars will get on a gallon of gas by the middle of the next decade.  (Applause.)

Here at Georgetown, I unveiled my strategy for a secure energy future.  And thanks to the ingenuity of our businesses, we’re starting to produce much more of our own energy.  We’re building the first nuclear power plants in more than three decades — in Georgia and South Carolina.  For the first time in 18 years, America is poised to produce more of our own oil than we buy from other nations.  And today, we produce more natural gas than anybody else.  So we’re producing energy.  And these advances have grown our economy, they’ve created new jobs, they can’t be shipped overseas — and, by the way, they’ve also helped drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly 20 years.  Since 2006, no country on Earth has reduced its total carbon pollution by as much as the United States of America.  (Applause.)

So it’s a good start.  But the reason we’re all here in the heat today is because we know we’ve got more to do.

In my State of the Union address, I urged Congress to come up with a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one that Republican and Democratic senators worked on together a few years ago.  And I still want to see that happen.  I’m willing to work with anyone to make that happen.

But this is a challenge that does not pause for partisan gridlock.  It demands our attention now.  And this is my plan to meet it — a plan to cut carbon pollution; a plan to protect our country from the impacts of climate change; and a plan to lead the world in a coordinated assault on a changing climate.  (Applause.)

This plan begins with cutting carbon pollution by changing the way we use energy — using less dirty energy, using more clean energy, wasting less energy throughout our economy.

Forty-three years ago, Congress passed a law called the Clean Air Act of 1970.  (Applause.)  It was a good law.  The reasoning behind it was simple:  New technology can protect our health by protecting the air we breathe from harmful pollution.  And that law passed the Senate unanimously.  Think about that — it passed the Senate unanimously.  It passed the House of Representatives 375 to 1.  I don’t know who the one guy was — I haven’t looked that up.  (Laughter.)  You can barely get that many votes to name a post office these days.  (Laughter.)

It was signed into law by a Republican President.  It was later strengthened by another Republican President.  This used to be a bipartisan issue.

Six years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases are pollutants covered by that same Clean Air Act.  (Applause.)  And they required the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, to determine whether they’re a threat to our health and welfare. In 2009, the EPA determined that they are a threat to both our health and our welfare in many different ways — from dirtier air to more common heat waves — and, therefore, subject to regulation.

Today, about 40 percent of America’s carbon pollution comes from our power plants.  But here’s the thing:  Right now, there are no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution that those plants can pump into our air.  None.  Zero.  We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and sulfur and arsenic in our air or our water, but power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free.  That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop.  (Applause.)

So today, for the sake of our children, and the health and safety of all Americans, I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants, and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.  (Applause.)

I’m also directing the EPA to develop these standards in an open and transparent way, to provide flexibility to different states with different needs, and build on the leadership that many states, and cities, and companies have already shown.  In fact, many power companies have already begun modernizing their plants, and creating new jobs in the process.  Others have shifted to burning cleaner natural gas instead of dirtier fuel sources.

Nearly a dozen states have already implemented or are implementing their own market-based programs to reduce carbon pollution.  More than 25 have set energy efficiency targets.  More than 35 have set renewable energy targets.  Over 1,000 mayors have signed agreements to cut carbon pollution.  So the idea of setting higher pollution standards for our power plants is not new.  It’s just time for Washington to catch up with the rest of the country.  And that’s what we intend to do.  (Applause.)

Now, what you’ll hear from the special interests and their allies in Congress is that this will kill jobs and crush the economy, and basically end American free enterprise as we know it.  And the reason I know you’ll hear those things is because that’s what they said every time America sets clear rules and better standards for our air and our water and our children’s health.  And every time, they’ve been wrong.

For example, in 1970, when we decided through the Clean Air Act to do something about the smog that was choking our cities — and, by the way, most young people here aren’t old enough to remember what it was like, but when I was going to school in 1979-1980 in Los Angeles, there were days where folks couldn’t go outside.  And the sunsets were spectacular because of all the pollution in the air.

But at the time when we passed the Clean Air Act to try to get rid of some of this smog, some of the same doomsayers were saying new pollution standards will decimate the auto industry.  Guess what — it didn’t happen.  Our air got cleaner.

In 1990, when we decided to do something about acid rain, they said our electricity bills would go up, the lights would go off, businesses around the country would suffer — I quote — “a quiet death.”  None of it happened, except we cut acid rain dramatically.

See, the problem with all these tired excuses for inaction is that it suggests a fundamental lack of faith in American business and American ingenuity.  (Applause.)  These critics seem to think that when we ask our businesses to innovate and reduce pollution and lead, they can’t or they won’t do it.  They’ll just kind of give up and quit.  But in America, we know that’s not true.  Look at our history.

When we restricted cancer-causing chemicals in plastics and leaded fuel in our cars, it didn’t end the plastics industry or the oil industry.  American chemists came up with better substitutes.  When we phased out CFCs — the gases that were depleting the ozone layer — it didn’t kill off refrigerators or air-conditioners or deodorant.  (Laughter.)  American workers and businesses figured out how to do it better without harming the environment as much.

The fuel standards that we put in place just a few years ago didn’t cripple automakers.  The American auto industry retooled, and today, our automakers are selling the best cars in the world at a faster rate than they have in five years — with more hybrid, more plug-in, more fuel-efficient cars for everybody to choose from.  (Applause.)

So the point is, if you look at our history, don’t bet against American industry.  Don’t bet against American workers.  Don’t tell folks that we have to choose between the health of our children or the health of our economy.  (Applause.)

The old rules may say we can’t protect our environment and promote economic growth at the same time, but in America, we’ve always used new technologies — we’ve used science; we’ve used research and development and discovery to make the old rules obsolete.

Today, we use more clean energy –- more renewables and natural gas -– which is supporting hundreds of thousands of good jobs.  We waste less energy, which saves you money at the pump and in your pocketbooks.  And guess what — our economy is 60 percent bigger than it was 20 years ago, while our carbon emissions are roughly back to where they were 20 years ago.

So, obviously, we can figure this out.  It’s not an either/or; it’s a both/and.  We’ve got to look after our children; we have to look after our future; and we have to grow the economy and create jobs.  We can do all of that as long as we don’t fear the future; instead we seize it.  (Applause.)

And, by the way, don’t take my word for it — recently, more than 500 businesses, including giants like GM and Nike, issued a Climate Declaration, calling action on climate change “one of the great economic opportunities of the 21st century.”  Walmart is working to cut its carbon pollution by 20 percent and transition completely to renewable energy.  (Applause.)  Walmart deserves a cheer for that.  (Applause.)  But think about it.  Would the biggest company, the biggest retailer in America — would they really do that if it weren’t good for business, if it weren’t good for their shareholders?

A low-carbon, clean energy economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come.  And I want America to build that engine.  I want America to build that future — right here in the United States of America.  That’s our task.  (Applause.)

Now, one thing I want to make sure everybody understands — this does not mean that we’re going to suddenly stop producing fossil fuels.  Our economy wouldn’t run very well if it did.  And transitioning to a clean energy economy takes time.  But when the doomsayers trot out the old warnings that these ambitions will somehow hurt our energy supply, just remind them that America produced more oil than we have in 15 years.  What is true is that we can’t just drill our way out of the energy and climate challenge that we face.  (Applause.)  That’s not possible.

I put forward in the past an all-of-the-above energy strategy, but our energy strategy must be about more than just producing more oil.  And, by the way, it’s certainly got to be about more than just building one pipeline.  (Applause.)

Now, I know there’s been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf.  And the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal.  That’s how it’s always been done.  But I do want to be clear:  Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest.  And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.  (Applause.)  The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.  It’s relevant.

Now, even as we’re producing more domestic oil, we’re also producing more cleaner-burning natural gas than any other country on Earth.  And, again, sometimes there are disputes about natural gas, but let me say this:  We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.

Federally supported technology has helped our businesses drill more effectively and extract more gas.  And now, we’ll keep working with the industry to make drilling safer and cleaner, to make sure that we’re not seeing methane emissions, and to put people to work modernizing our natural gas infrastructure so that we can power more homes and businesses with cleaner energy.

The bottom line is natural gas is creating jobs.  It’s lowering many families’ heat and power bills.  And it’s the transition fuel that can power our economy with less carbon pollution even as our businesses work to develop and then deploy more of the technology required for the even cleaner energy economy of the future.

And that brings me to the second way that we’re going to reduce carbon pollution — by using more clean energy.  Over the past four years, we’ve doubled the electricity that we generate from zero-carbon wind and solar power.  (Applause.)  And that means jobs — jobs manufacturing the wind turbines that now generate enough electricity to power nearly 15 million homes; jobs installing the solar panels that now generate more than four times the power at less cost than just a few years ago.

I know some Republicans in Washington dismiss these jobs, but those who do need to call home — because 75 percent of all wind energy in this country is generated in Republican districts. (Laughter.)  And that may explain why last year, Republican governors in Kansas and Oklahoma and Iowa — Iowa, by the way, a state that harnesses almost 25 percent of its electricity from the wind — helped us in the fight to extend tax credits for wind energy manufacturers and producers.  (Applause.)  Tens of thousands good jobs were on the line, and those jobs were worth the fight.

And countries like China and Germany are going all in in the race for clean energy.  I believe Americans build things better than anybody else.  I want America to win that race, but we can’t win it if we’re not in it.  (Applause.)

So the plan I’m announcing today will help us double again our energy from wind and sun.  Today, I’m directing the Interior Department to green light enough private, renewable energy capacity on public lands to power more than 6 million homes by 2020.  (Applause.)

The Department of Defense — the biggest energy consumer in America — will install 3 gigawatts of renewable power on its bases, generating about the same amount of electricity each year as you’d get from burning 3 million tons of coal.  (Applause.)

And because billions of your tax dollars continue to still subsidize some of the most profitable corporations in the history of the world, my budget once again calls for Congress to end the tax breaks for big oil companies, and invest in the clean-energy companies that will fuel our future.  (Applause.)

Now, the third way to reduce carbon pollution is to waste less energy — in our cars, our homes, our businesses.  The fuel standards we set over the past few years mean that by the middle of the next decade, the cars and trucks we buy will go twice as far on a gallon of gas.  That means you’ll have to fill up half as often; we’ll all reduce carbon pollution.  And we built on that success by setting the first-ever standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses and vans.  And in the coming months, we’ll partner with truck makers to do it again for the next generation of vehicles.

Meanwhile, the energy we use in our homes and our businesses and our factories, our schools, our hospitals — that’s responsible for about one-third of our greenhouse gases.  The good news is simple upgrades don’t just cut that pollution; they put people to work — manufacturing and installing smarter lights and windows and sensors and appliances.  And the savings show up in our electricity bills every month — forever.  That’s why we’ve set new energy standards for appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers.  And today, our businesses are building better ones that will also cut carbon pollution and cut consumers’ electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.

That means, by the way, that our federal government also has to lead by example.   I’m proud that federal agencies have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15 percent since I took office.  But we can do even better than that.  So today, I’m setting a new goal:  Your federal government will consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within the next seven years.  We are going to set that goal.  (Applause.)

We’ll also encourage private capital to get off the sidelines and get into these energy-saving investments.  And by the end of the next decade, these combined efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings will reduce carbon pollution by at least three billion tons.  That’s an amount equal to what our entire energy sector emits in nearly half a year.

So I know these standards don’t sound all that sexy, but think of it this way:  That’s the equivalent of planting 7.6 billion trees and letting them grow for 10 years — all while doing the dishes.  It is a great deal and we need to be doing it. (Applause.)

So using less dirty energy, transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, wasting less energy through our economy is where we need to go.  And this plan will get us there faster.  But I want to be honest — this will not get us there overnight.  The hard truth is carbon pollution has built up in our atmosphere for decades now.  And even if we Americans do our part, the planet will slowly keep warming for some time to come.  The seas will slowly keep rising and storms will get more severe, based on the science.  It’s like tapping the brakes of a car before you come to a complete stop and then can shift into reverse.  It’s going to take time for carbon emissions to stabilize.

So in the meantime, we’re going to need to get prepared.  And that’s why this plan will also protect critical sectors of our economy and prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change that we cannot avoid.  States and cities across the country are already taking it upon themselves to get ready.  Miami Beach is hardening its water supply against seeping saltwater.  We’re partnering with the state of Florida to restore Florida’s natural clean water delivery system — the Everglades.
The overwhelmingly Republican legislature in Texas voted to spend money on a new water development bank as a long-running drought cost jobs and forced a town to truck in water from the outside.

New York City is fortifying its 520 miles of coastline as an insurance policy against more frequent and costly storms.  And what we’ve learned from Hurricane Sandy and other disasters is that we’ve got to build smarter, more resilient infrastructure that can protect our homes and businesses, and withstand more powerful storms.  That means stronger seawalls, natural barriers, hardened power grids, hardened water systems, hardened fuel supplies.

So the budget I sent Congress includes funding to support communities that build these projects, and this plan directs federal agencies to make sure that any new project funded with taxpayer dollars is built to withstand increased flood risks.

And we’ll partner with communities seeking help to prepare for droughts and floods, reduce the risk of wildfires, protect the dunes and wetlands that pull double duty as green space and as natural storm barriers.  And we’ll also open our climate data and NASA climate imagery to the public, to make sure that cities and states assess risk under different climate scenarios, so that we don’t waste money building structures that don’t withstand the next storm.

So that’s what my administration will do to support the work already underway across America, not only to cut carbon pollution, but also to protect ourselves from climate change.  But as I think everybody here understands, no nation can solve this challenge alone — not even one as powerful as ours.  And that’s why the final part of our plan calls on America to lead — lead international efforts to combat a changing climate.  (Applause.)

And make no mistake — the world still looks to America to lead.  When I spoke to young people in Turkey a few years ago, the first question I got wasn’t about the challenges that part of the world faces.  It was about the climate challenge that we all face, and America’s role in addressing it.  And it was a fair question, because as the world’s largest economy and second-largest carbon emitter, as a country with unsurpassed ability to drive innovation and scientific breakthroughs, as the country that people around the world continue to look to in times of crisis, we’ve got a vital role to play.  We can’t stand on the sidelines.  We’ve got a unique responsibility.  And the steps that I’ve outlined today prove that we’re willing to meet that responsibility.

Though all America’s carbon pollution fell last year, global carbon pollution rose to a record high.  That’s a problem.  Developing countries are using more and more energy, and tens of millions of people entering a global middle class naturally want to buy cars and air-conditioners of their own, just like us.  Can’t blame them for that.  And when you have conversations with poor countries, they’ll say, well, you went through these stages of development — why can’t we?

But what we also have to recognize is these same countries are also more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than we are.  They don’t just have as much to lose, they probably have more to lose.

Developing nations with some of the fastest-rising levels of carbon pollution are going to have to take action to meet this challenge alongside us.  They’re watching what we do, but we’ve got to make sure that they’re stepping up to the plate as well.  We compete for business with them, but we also share a planet.  And we have to all shoulder the responsibility for keeping the planet habitable, or we’re going to suffer the consequences — together.

So to help more countries transitioning to cleaner sources of energy and to help them do it faster, we’re going to partner with our private sector to apply private sector technological know-how in countries that transition to natural gas.  We’ve mobilized billions of dollars in private capital for clean energy projects around the world.

Today, I’m calling for an end of public financing for new coal plants overseas — (applause) — unless they deploy carbon-capture technologies, or there’s no other viable way for the poorest countries to generate electricity.  And I urge other countries to join this effort.

And I’m directing my administration to launch negotiations toward global free trade in environmental goods and services, including clean energy technology, to help more countries skip past the dirty phase of development and join a global low-carbon economy.  They don’t have to repeat all the same mistakes that we made.  (Applause.)

We’ve also intensified our climate cooperation with major emerging economies like India and Brazil, and China — the world’s largest emitter.  So, for example, earlier this month, President Xi of China and I reached an important agreement to jointly phase down our production and consumption of dangerous hydrofluorocarbons, and we intend to take more steps together in the months to come.  It will make a difference.  It’s a significant step in the reduction of carbon emissions.  (Applause.)

And finally, my administration will redouble our efforts to engage our international partners in reaching a new global agreement to reduce carbon pollution through concrete action.  (Applause.)

Four years ago, in Copenhagen, every major country agreed, for the first time, to limit carbon pollution by 2020.  Two years ago, we decided to forge a new agreement beyond 2020 that would apply to all countries, not just developed countries.

What we need is an agreement that’s ambitious — because that’s what the scale of the challenge demands.  We need an inclusive agreement -– because every country has to play its part.  And we need an agreement that’s flexible — because different nations have different needs.  And if we can come together and get this right, we can define a sustainable future for your generation.

So that’s my plan.  (Applause.)  The actions I’ve announced today should send a strong signal to the world that America intends to take bold action to reduce carbon pollution.  We will continue to lead by the power of our example, because that’s what the United States of America has always done.

I am convinced this is the fight America can, and will, lead in the 21st century.  And I’m convinced this is a fight that America must lead.  But it will require all of us to do our part. We’ll need scientists to design new fuels, and we’ll need farmers to grow new fuels.  We’ll need engineers to devise new technologies, and we’ll need businesses to make and sell those technologies.  We’ll need workers to operate assembly lines that hum with high-tech, zero-carbon components, but we’ll also need builders to hammer into place the foundations for a new clean energy era.

We’re going to need to give special care to people and communities that are unsettled by this transition — not just here in the United States but around the world.  And those of us in positions of responsibility, we’ll need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of posterity.  (Applause.)  Because you and your children, and your children’s children, will have to live with the consequences of our decisions.

As I said before, climate change has become a partisan issue, but it hasn’t always been.  It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans led the way on new and innovative policies to tackle these issues.  Richard Nixon opened the EPA.  George H.W. Bush declared — first U.S. President to declare — “human activities are changing the atmosphere in unexpected and unprecedented ways.”  Someone who never shies away from a challenge, John McCain, introduced a market-based cap-and-trade bill to slow carbon pollution.

The woman that I’ve chosen to head up the EPA, Gina McCarthy, she’s worked — (applause) — she’s terrific.  Gina has worked for the EPA in my administration, but she’s also worked for five Republican governors.  She’s got a long track record of working with industry and business leaders to forge common-sense solutions.  Unfortunately, she’s being held up in the Senate. She’s been held up for months, forced to jump through hoops no Cabinet nominee should ever have to –- not because she lacks qualifications, but because there are too many in the Republican Party right now who think that the Environmental Protection Agency has no business protecting our environment from carbon pollution.  The Senate should confirm her without any further obstruction or delay.  (Applause.)
But more broadly, we’ve got to move beyond partisan politics on this issue.  I want to be clear — I am willing to work with anybody –- Republicans, Democrats, independents, libertarians, greens -– anybody — to combat this threat on behalf of our kids. I am open to all sorts of new ideas, maybe better ideas, to make sure that we deal with climate change in a way that promotes jobs and growth.

Nobody has a monopoly on what is a very hard problem, but I don’t have much patience for anyone who denies that this challenge is real.  (Applause.)  We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.  (Applause.)  Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it’s not going to protect you from the coming storm.  And ultimately, we will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country on where we go from here.

Our founders believed that those of us in positions of power are elected not just to serve as custodians of the present, but as caretakers of the future.  And they charged us to make decisions with an eye on a longer horizon than the arc of our own political careers.  That’s what the American people expect.  That’s what they deserve.

And someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they’ll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?  And I want to be able to say, yes, we did.  Don’t you want that?  (Applause.)

Americans are not a people who look backwards; we’re a people who look forward.  We’re not a people who fear what the future holds; we shape it.  What we need in this fight are citizens who will stand up, and speak up, and compel us to do what this moment demands.

Understand this is not just a job for politicians.  So I’m going to need all of you to educate your classmates, your colleagues, your parents, your friends.  Tell them what’s at stake.  Speak up at town halls, church groups, PTA meetings.  Push back on misinformation.  Speak up for the facts.  Broaden the circle of those who are willing to stand up for our future.  (Applause.)

Convince those in power to reduce our carbon pollution.  Push your own communities to adopt smarter practices.  Invest.  Divest.  (Applause.)  Remind folks there’s no contradiction between a sound environment and strong economic growth.  And remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote.  Make yourself heard on this issue.  (Applause.)

I understand the politics will be tough.  The challenge we must accept will not reward us with a clear moment of victory.  There’s no gathering army to defeat.  There’s no peace treaty to sign.  When President Kennedy said we’d go to the moon within the decade, we knew we’d build a spaceship and we’d meet the goal.  Our progress here will be measured differently — in crises averted, in a planet preserved.  But can we imagine a more worthy goal?  For while we may not live to see the full realization of our ambition, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that the world we leave to our children will be better off for what we did.

“It makes you realize,” that astronaut said all those years ago, “just what you have back there on Earth.”  And that image in the photograph, that bright blue ball rising over the moon’s surface, containing everything we hold dear — the laughter of children, a quiet sunset, all the hopes and dreams of posterity  — that’s what’s at stake.  That’s what we’re fighting for.  And if we remember that, I’m absolutely sure we’ll succeed.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
2:32 P.M. EDT

Political Musings June 25, 2013: PM Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama discuss Keystone XL oilsands pipeline on G8 summit sidelines

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

Harper and Obama discuss Keystone XL oilsands pipeline on G8 summit sidelines

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Canadian PM Stephen Harper attended the G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Golf resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland June 17th and 18th as part of a wider working visit to Europe, where he also addressed the British Parliament on June…READ MORE

Full Text Obama Presidency March 4, 2013: President Barack Obama Speech Announces Cabinet-Level Positions for Budget Office, Environmental Protection Agency & Energy Department

POLITICAL BUZZ


OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President in Personnel Announcements

Source: WH, 3-4-13 

East Room

10:27 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning, everybody.  This afternoon, I’ll hold my first Cabinet meeting of my second term.  And there will be some new faces, and there will be some familiar faces in new jobs.  But there will also be some seats waiting to be filled on a permanent basis.  And today, I’m announcing my plan to nominate three outstanding individuals to help us tackle some of our most important challenges.

One of those challenges is building on the work that we’ve done to control our own energy future while reducing pollution that contributes to climate change.  And few people have played more of a role in addressing these issues than current Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.  Steven has helped us to speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.  He’s given more of our brightest young scientists the opportunity to pursue the ideas that will shape our future.  So I could not be more grateful to Steve for the incredible contribution that he’s made to this country.

And now that he’s decided to leave Washington for sunny California, I’m proud to nominate another brilliant scientist to take his place — Mr. Ernie Moniz.  There’s Ernie right there.  (Applause.)

Now, the good news is that Ernie already knows his way around the Department of Energy.  He is a physicist by training, but he also served as Under Secretary of Energy under President Clinton.  Since then, he’s directed MIT’s Energy Initiative, which brings together prominent thinkers and energy companies to develop the technologies that can lead us to more energy independence and also to new jobs.

Most importantly, Ernie knows that we can produce more energy and grow our economy while still taking care of our air, our water and our climate.  And so I could not be more pleased to have Ernie join us.  And he will be joined in that effort by my nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Over the last four years, Lisa Jackson and her team at the EPA have helped us to reduce emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that causes climate change, put in place the toughest new pollution standards in two decades.  Lisa is now ready for a well-deserved break.  And I want to very much thank Bob Perciasepe, who’s not only been a great Deputy Administrator, but has also been acting as the Acting Administrator.  So, please, Bob — everybody give Bob a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

As we move forward, I think there is nobody who can do a better job in filling Lisa’s shoes permanently than my nominee who’s standing beside me here — Gina McCarthy.  (Applause.)

Now, you wouldn’t know from talking to her, but Gina is from Boston.  (Laughter.)  And one of her proudest moments was yelling “Play ball!” at Fenway Park before a Red Sox game.  But Gina has got plenty more to be proud of.  As a top environmental official in Massachusetts and Connecticut, she helped design programs to expand energy efficiency and promote renewable energy.  As Assistant EPA Administrator, Gina has focused on practical, cost-effective ways to keep our air clean and our economy growing.  She’s earned a reputation as a straight shooter.  She welcomes different points of views.  I’m confident that she’s going to do an outstanding job leading the EPA.

So these two over here, they’re going to be making sure that we’re investing in American energy, that we’re doing everything that we can to combat the threat of climate change, that we’re going to be creating jobs and economic opportunity in the first place.  They are going to be a great team.  And these are some of my top priorities going forward.

But as President, one of the things you learn very quickly is that it’s not enough just to talk a big game; the real test is whether your priorities are reflected in a budget.  And that’s where the rubber hits the road.  That’s where my third nominee comes in.

Since I took office, Jeff Zients has served as America’s first Chief Performance Officer and the Deputy Director of the management — Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget.  He’s made our government more efficient.  He’s saved taxpayers a lot of money.  He’s stepped in as Acting Director of OMB not once, but twice, including leading up to the fiscal cliff.  So there’s no question that Jeff’s skill and versatility have served the American people very well.  I expect it will continue to serve us well in the future.

In the meantime, I am confident that my nominee for OMB Director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, is the right person to continue Jeff’s great work.  (Applause.)

In the 1990s, when she was, what, 19 — (laughter) — Sylvia served under Jack Lew as Deputy Director of OMB — part of a team that presided over three budget surpluses in a row.  Later, she helped the Gates Foundation grow into a global force for good, and then she helped the Walmart Foundation expand its charitable work.  So Sylvia knows her way around a budget.

But as the granddaughter of Greek immigrants, she also understands that our goal when we put together a budget is not just to make the numbers add up.  Our goal is also to reignite the true engine of economic growth in this country, and that is a strong and growing middle class — to offer ladders of opportunity for anybody willing to climb them.

Sylvia’s mom is here.  And Sylvia loves to talk about her parents growing up in West Virginia and the values that they instilled in her as educators.  And I think that reflects everything that Sylvia now does.  And so I’m absolutely confident that she’s going to do a great job at OMB.  And those values are especially important to remember now, as we continue to try and find a way forward in light of the budget cuts that are already starting to cost us jobs and hurt our economy.

As I said before, the American people are resilient.  And I know that Jeff and Sylvia will do everything in their power to blunt the impact of these cuts on businesses and middle-class families.  But eventually, a lot of people are going to feel some pain.  That’s why we’ve got to keep on working to reduce our deficit in a balanced way — an approach that’s supported by the majority of the American people, including a majority of Republicans.  And I’m confident that we can get there if people of goodwill come together.

So I want to thank Steve and Lisa and Jeff once more for their outstanding service, for all the great work that they’ve done in this administration over the last several years.  I want to thank Ernie, Gina and Sylvia, and their families, for agreeing to take on these big roles.

I hope the Senate will confirm them as soon as possible, because we’ve got a lot of work to do and we cannot afford delay. But I can promise you that as soon as the Senate gives them the go ahead, they’re going to hit the ground running and they’re going to help make America a stronger and more prosperous country.

So thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
10:36 A.M. EST

Political Headlines March 4, 2013: President Barack Obama Announces Trio of Cabinet-Level Positions for Budget Office, Environmental Protection Agency & Energy Department

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

Obama Announces Trio of Cabinet-Level Positions

Source: ABC News Radio, 3-4-13

Pete Marovich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rounding out his second-term cabinet, President Obama on Monday announced his picks to run the budget office, Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Department.

The president named Gina McCarthy, who heads the EPA’s air and radiation office, as the agency’s next administrator, MIT physicist Ernest Moniz as Energy Secretary, and Walmart’s Sylvia Matthews Burwell as his next budget director….READ MORE

Political Headlines December 27, 2012: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Resigns

POLITICAL HEADLINES

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

THE HEADLINES….

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Resigns

Source: ABC News Radio, 12-27-12

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, responsible for pushing through some of the most significant curbs on air pollution in 20 years, said Thursday that she will resign from her post next month.

“As the president said earlier this year when he addressed EPA’s employees, ‘You help make sure the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat are safe. You help protect the environment not just for our children but their children. And you keep us moving toward energy independence…We have made historic progress on all these fronts,’ Jackson said in a statement Wednesday. “So, I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference.”

In his own statement, President Obama said Jackson “has shown an unwavering commitment” to her role as EPA administrator….READ MORE

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