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President Obama's Environmental Record

August 6, 2012 - If someone were to ask you about President Obama's record on the environment, would you have a hard time answering the question?  I realized I would, so I went straight to the horse's mouth:  Since this is the administration's side of the story, I found that they occasionally chose to laud themselves regarding matters which I thought counterproductive, i.e., approving a permit for a nuclear reactor in Burke, Georgia.  (Everybody: Huzzah!)  Overall, I think it is safe to say that the President has done a lot more than most people realize.  While some of what's been done falls under the heading of "let's talk about that some more," there have been real, honest-to-goodness accomplishments, as well.  In the interest of a well-informed electorate, here is a list of President Obama's accomplished goals, so far (in some cases, legislation or directives have taken effect, with the completion date lying at some point in the future):

  1. The Obama Administration's (OA) investment in clean energy has been the largest in American history.
  2. Americans have nearly doubled renewable energy generation from wind, solar and geothermal sources since 2008.  We are the world's leading investor in such technologies.
  3. President Obama has repeatedly asked Congress to eliminate tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.
  4. Since 2009, the Dept. of the Interior has approved 29 onshore renewable energy projects.  By the end of 2012, it will issue permits for 10,000 megawatts of renewable power on public lands, and in offshore waters.
  5. In February of this year, the U.S. launched the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollution.  Pollutants fitting this description include methane, black-carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons.  Together they account for one-third of current global warming.
  6. Recovery Act funding for the environment amounts to $11 billion for projects ranging from green job training to marine habitat restoration to water quality improvement.
  7. In signing the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, President Obama authorized the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation.
  8. The OA has proposed fuel economy standards that will double car and light truck fuel efficiency by 2025.  It has also finalized fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards for commercial trucks, vans, and buses built in 2014-2018.
  9. The OA is the first to establish national limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants created by power plants.  These limits act in conjunction with rules established by the EPA regarding emissions reduction by cement plants, industrial boilers, and waste incinerators.
  10. The OA created the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and invested more than $1 billion to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem.  More than 1 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment have been removed, and 20,000 acres of essential habitat restored.
  11. Through 2011, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities has provided more than $1.7 billion in funding to support resilient economies and healthy environments in more than 550 communities and regions across the country.
  12. The OA has invested more than $1.4 billion in restoring the Everglades.  In partnership with the State of Florida, floodplains along the Kissimmee River are being re-established, the Taimiami Trail will be bridged, and other key elements of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan will be enacted.
  13. The U.S. reduced oil imports by 10 percent (1 million barrels per day) between 2010 and 2011.
I would call this a list of the highlights.  If you'd like more in-depth information, visit the website.  And don't let anybody get away with saying the President hasn't done anything!


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