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Climate change and the State of the Union

Environmental groups respond to President Obama's speech

Climate change and the State of the Union

President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama gives his State of the Union address on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Jan. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

"But we have to act with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods," President Obama said in his State of the Union address last night. ""That's why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air.

Environmental groups praised the speech, but pushed for more. Many singled out his "all-of-the-above" energy strategy as problematic, saying a more definitive shift to clean energy needs to happen.

"The shift to a cleaner energy economy won't happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way," Obama said. "But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children's children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did."

Here are responses from various environmental groups:

Environmental Defense Fund: “In addition to the groundbreaking Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration has set cleaner standards for our cars and trucks, doubled down on its renewable energy goal and -- most important -- proposed the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants," said president Fred Krupp. "We look forward now to action on methane, another powerful climate pollutant. As the President told the New Yorker magazine recently, methane pollution will be a 'profound' problem if not handled correctly. The President also proposed tonight to shift more vehicles to natural gas -- but that would indeed cause profound problems for the climate unless his Administration takes action to curb methane releases from the natural gas industry."

Sierra Club: “The President has taken significant steps forward by committing to hold dirty power plants accountable for their toxic carbon pollution and to protect our public lands. We’re also encouraged to hear his plans to help repair and modernize America's infrastructure," said executive director Michael Brune.  “Unfortunately, the sum total of the President’s commitments fall short of what American families need to ensure a safe, healthy planet for our children. We can’t drill or frack our way out of this problem. There is far more potential for good job creation in clean energy like solar and wind, and common sense solutions like energy efficiency." 

Earthjustice: “The success of the President’s climate plan and our children's future depends on viewing all fossil fuels decisions through the lens of climate impacts, as the president has said he would do for the Keystone XL pipeline," said president Tripp Van Noppen. "Those agencies responsible for drilling off our coasts, fracking, mountaintop removal, and fossil fuel exports have to prioritize climate change just as the EPA is doing, and the President needs to ensure that they do.  An ‘all-of-the-above energy strategy’ cannot work for the President’s own climate action plan and the climate vision he espoused tonight. All energy sources were not created equal. Clean energy is better for our families, communities, future generations, and American competitiveness. The United States should be placing our bets on 'best of the above,' not 'all of the above.' "

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: "There’s no prospect of Congress taking serious action anytime soon, and the president is right to move forward with the regulatory tools at his disposal," said president Eileen Claussen. "The carbon limits for power plants the administration is developing must deliver meaningful reductions while ensuring the reliability and affordability of America’s power supplies. In crafting them, the Administration must work closely with states and business to forge practical, flexible approaches that protect both the climate and our economy."

 

 

 

 

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
About this blog

GreenSpace is about environmental issues and green living. Bauers also writes a biweekly GreenSpace column about environmental health issues for the Inquirer’s Sunday “Health” section.

Sandy Bauers is the environment reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she has worked for more than 20 years as a reporter and editor. She lives in northern Chester County with her husband, two cats, a large vegetable garden and a flock of pet chickens.

Reach Sandy at sbauers@phillynews.com.

Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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