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



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.)

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





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





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

Full Text January 10, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the EPA — Environmental Protection Agency — In First Visit Presidential Visit




President Obama Visits the EPA

Source: WH, 1-10-12

President Barack Obama thanks the EPA staff
President Barack Obama delivers remarks to employees of the Environmental Protection Agency at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2012. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson stands at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Read the Transcript  |  Download Video: mp4 (113MB) | mp3 (11MB)

President Obama earlier today stopped by the Environmental Protection Agency for his first ever visit. He made the trip to express his appreciation for the vital work done by the staff.

In a meeting with the staff, he said:

I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, because the EPA touches on the lives of every single American every single day. You help make sure that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat are safe. You protect the environment not just for our children but their children. And you keep us moving towards energy independence.

And it is a vital mission. Over the past three years, because of your hard work, we’ve made historic progress on all these fronts.

The President pledged to stand by the EPA in its work:

Our environment is safer because of you. Our country is stronger because of you.  Our future is brighter because of you. And I want you to know that you’ve got a President who is grateful for your work and will stand with you every inch of the way as you carry out your mission to make sure that we’ve got a cleaner world.

Read the full remarks here.

Remarks by the President to EPA staff

Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
Washington, D.C.

2:51 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you!  Thank you, EPA!  (Applause.)  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you so much.  It is wonderful to see you.  It is great to see you.  Thank you, thank you.

Now, everybody can have a seat.  I know Lisa is making you guys all stand up.  (Laughter.)  But you can all relax.

It is wonderful to be here with all of you.  Thank you so much for all the great work you do.  I want to first acknowledge your outstanding Administrator, Lisa Jackson.  (Applause.)  She has done an extraordinary job leading this agency.  But here’s what I want all of you to know:  Not only is she good on policy, not only is she tough and able to present the EPA’s mission so effectively to the public, but she also has your back.  (Applause.)  She is an advocate on behalf of all the people who work so hard here at the EPA.  And so you should know that your boss loves you, even if she doesn’t always show it, I don’t know.  (Laughter.)

The main reason I’m here is simple:  I just want to say thank you.  I want to say thank you to each and every one of you, because the EPA touches on the lives of every single American every single day.  You help make sure that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat are safe.  You protect the environment not just for our children but their children.  And you keep us moving towards energy independence.

And it is a vital mission.  Over the past three years, because of your hard work, we’ve made historic progress on all these fronts.  Just a few weeks ago, thanks to the hard work of so many of you, Lisa and I was able to announce new common-sense standards to better protect the air we breathe from mercury and other harmful air pollution.  And that was a big deal.  (Applause.)  And part of the reason it was a big deal was because, for over 20 years, special interest groups had successfully delayed implementing these standards when it came to our nation’s power plants.  And what we said was:  “Enough.”  It’s time to get this done.

And because we acted, we’re going to prevent thousands of premature deaths, thousands of heart attacks and cases of childhood asthma.

There are families that are going to be directly impacted in a positive way because of the work that you do.  Because you kept fighting — and some of you have been fighting this fight for a long time, long before I was here and long before Lisa was here.  And so your tenacity and stick-to-itness is making a difference.

Because of you, across the board, we’re cutting down on acid rain and air pollution.  We’re making our drinking water cleaner and safer.  We’re creating healthier communities.  But that’s not all.  Safeguarding our environment is also about strengthening our economy.  I do not buy the notion that we have to make a choice between having clean air and clean water and growing this economy in a robust way.  I think that is a false debate.  (Applause.)

Think about it:  We established new fuel economy standards, a historic accomplishment that is going to slash oil consumption by about 12 billion barrels, dramatically reduces pollution that contributes to climate change, and saves consumers thousands of dollars at the pump, which they can then go spend on something else.

As part of the Recovery Act, you cleaned up contaminated sites across the country, which helped to rid neighborhoods of environmental blight while putting Americans back to work.

We don’t have to choose between dirty air and dirty water or a growing economy.  We can make sure that we are doing right by our environment and, in fact, putting people back to work all across America.  That’s part of our mission.

When we put in place new common-sense rules to reduce air pollution, we create new jobs building and installing all sorts of pollution-control technology.  When we put in place new emissions standards for our vehicles, we make sure that the cars of tomorrow are going to be built right here in the United States of America, that we’re going to win that race.

When we clean up our nation’s waterways, we generate more tourists for our local communities.  So what’s good for the environment can also be good for our economy.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be some tensions.  That doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be legitimate debates that take place.  That doesn’t mean that it’s not important for every single one of us to think about how can we make sure that we are achieving our goals in the smartest way possible, in the most efficient ways possible, in the least bureaucratic ways possible, in the clearest ways possible.  That’s also part of our mission.

There’s not a federal agency that can’t get better and be smarter in accomplishing our mission, and we have an obligation every single day to think about how can we do our business a little bit better.  How can we make sure the taxpayers are getting every dime’s worth that they’re paying in order to achieve these important common goals that we have?

But I believe we can do it, and you’ve shown me that we can do it over these last three years.  So I could not be prouder of the work that you all do every single day as federal employees.  I know the hours can be long.  I know that sometimes spending time getting these policies right means less time at home than you’d like, and you’re missing birthday parties, or you’re missing a soccer game, and the spouse is not happy with you.  I know a little bit about that sometimes.  (Laughter.)  I know these jobs are demanding.

But I also know what compelled you to enter public service in the first place — and that’s the idea that you could make a difference; that you could leave behind a planet that is a little cleaner, a little safer than the one we inherited.

And I have to tell you that part of why I get excited when I see some of the work that you’re doing is because our next generation is so much more attuned to these issues than I was when I was growing up.  I can tell you when I sit down and I talk to my kids, probably the area where they have the most sophisticated understanding of policy is when it comes to the environment.  They understand that the decisions we make now are going to have an impact on their lives for many years to come.  And their instincts are right.  So your mission is vital.

And just think of what this agency has been able to do over the last four decades.  There’s so many things we now take for granted.  When I hear folks grumbling about environmental policy, you almost want to do a Back to the Future — (laughter) — kind of reminder of folks of what happens when we didn’t have a strong EPA.  The year before President Nixon created the EPA, the Cuyahoga River was so dirty from industrial pollution and oil slicks that it literally caught on fire.  In my hometown, the Chicago River — you probably could not find anything alive in there — (laughter) — four decades ago.  Now it’s thriving — to the benefit of the city.  Today, because of your work, 92 percent of Americans have access to clean water that meets our national health standards.

Before the EPA was created, our cars were spewing harmful lead pollution into the air, with all sorts of impacts, especially on children.  Today, because of your work, air pollution is down by more than half, and lead pollution is down more than 90 percent from a generation ago.

So all of you, and all of those who served before you, have made a difference.  Our environment is safer because of you.  Our country is stronger because of you.  Our future is brighter because of you.  And I want you to know that you’ve got a President who is grateful for your work and will stand with you every inch of the way as you carry out your mission to make sure that we’ve got a cleaner world.  (Applause.)

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

3:02 P.M. EST

White House Recap November 12-18, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Embarks on 9 Day Asia Pacific Tour to Hawaii, Australia & Indonesia



Weekly Wrap Up: Strengthening Relationships Abroad

Source: WH, 11-18-11
President Barack Obama Delivers Remarks

President Barack Obama delivers remarks honoring 60 years of the U.S. and Australian Alliance to a crowd of some 2000 soldiers and guests at the Royal Army Air Force Base in Darwin, Australia, Nov.17, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The President in the Pacific: President Obama embarked on a nine day Asia Pacific tour  focused on strengthening economic ties and renewing strategic relationships in the region. From November 11th  through November 19th, the President visited Hawaii, Australia, and Indonesia. While on the road, he spoke at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperationmet with Australian Prime Minister, addressed Australian Parliament, spoke with Australian troops and U.S. Marines, and attended the East Asia Summit.

Cleaner Air: The Obama Administration announced a joint proposal to save American families money at the pump, reduce our country’s dependence on oil, and boost domestic manufacturing. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the next steps toward setting stronger fuel economy and greenhouse gas pollution standards for model year 2017-2025 passenger cars and light-duty trucks.

Cancer Awareness: President Obama congratulated those who participated in American Cancer Society’s 36th annual  Great American Smokeout, a challenge to smokers to kick their tobacco habit.  An estimated 443,000 people in the United States die each year due to cigarettes and tobacco use is still considered one of the leading causes of death in the U.S.  President Obama–a former smoker himself–and his Administration continue to make progress in reducing the number of Americans who smoke.

Carrier Classic: Over Veterans Day weekend, President Obama and the First Lady attended the first-ever Carrier Classic aboard the USS Carl Vinson where they watched University of North Carolina men’s basketball team defeat Michigan State. The game had more than 8,000 people in the stands – most of whom were servicemembers.

Political Buzz September 2, 2011: President Barack Obama Tells EPA to Withdraw Proposed Smog, Ozone Standards


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.



Obama tells EPA to withdraw proposed smog standards: President Obama pulled back proposed new national smog standards on Friday, overruling the Environmental Protection Agency in its efforts to compel states and communities to reduce air pollution. The move represents a win for the business community, which had lobbied to postpone the new restrictions until 2013 in light of the current economic downturn.

“But it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stopping Washington Democrats’ agenda of tax hikes, more government ‘stimulus’ spending, and increased regulations, which are all making it harder to create more American jobs.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner spokesman Michael Steel

“The president’s decision is good news for the economy and Americans looking for work. EPA’s proposal would have prevented the very job creation that President Obama has identified as his top priority.” — Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute

  • Obama to drop smog initiative, GOP claims win: US President Barack Obama unexpectedly asked the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday to withdraw a plan to limit smog pollution, handing a big win to business and Republicans who have argued … – Reuters, 9-2-11
  • Obama overrules EPA, scraps plan to tighten smog rules: President Barack Obama on Friday scrapped his administration’s controversial plans to tighten smog rules, bowing to the demands of congressional Republicans and some business leaders. … – AP, 9-2-11
  • Obama asks EPA to back off draft ozone standard: President Obama Friday asked the Environmental Protection Agency to drop the development of controversial rules to cut smog levels, pleasing the business community but upsetting environmentalists.
    The business community and the Republican Party have loudly decried the possibility of more stringent rules on ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, as job-killers.
    But to Obama’s environmental base, the decision to back down from the ozone rules was the latest in a string of decisions and signals that suggest to them that the administration is backing away from key anti-pollution initiatives before the 2012 election to court business and anti-regulation voters…. – LAT, 9-2-11
  • White House backs down on ozone rule: President Barack Obama announced Friday that his administration has abandoned its plans to set tougher smog standards after coming under fierce pressure from industry and congressional Republicans…. – Politico, 9-2-11
  • Obama backs off tough clean air regulation: President suspends a new ozone requirment after fierce criticism from Republican lawmakers — and after the economy posts zero new jobs in August…. – CNN, 9-2-11
  • Obama Asks EPA to Withdraw Proposed Ozone Rule: President Barack Obama, citing the nation’s struggling economy, asked the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw an air quality rule that Republicans and business groups have said could cost tens … – WSJ, 9-2-11
  • Obama directs EPA to withdraw controversial proposed regulation on smog standards: President Barack Obama is directing his administration to withdraw a controversial proposed regulation updating government smog standards. The withdrawal comes two days after the White House identified seven proposed regulations…. – AP, WaPo, 9-2-11
  • Obama pulls back proposed smog standards, in victory for business: President Obama abruptly pulled back proposed new national smog standards Friday morning, overruling the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to compel states and communities nationwide to reduce local air pollution…. – WaPo, 9-2-11
  • Obama Withdraws Environmental Rules, Citing Business Burden: President Obama told the EPA today to withdraw proposed air quality legislation, citing the need to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses as the economy continues to recover…. – ABC News, 9-2-11
  • Obama Withdraws Proposed Regulation On Smog: Saying that “reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover” prompted his administration to rethink, President Obama just announced that he’s withdrawing proposed regulations … – NPR, 9-2-11
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