Future historians will inevitably judge all 21st-century presidents on just two issues: global warming and the clean energy transition. If the world doesn’t stop catastrophic climate change then all presidents, indeed, all of us, will be seen as failures and rightfully so.
In that sense, what team Obama has accomplished in the year since he was elected is nothing less than an unprecedented reversal of decades of unsustainable national policy forced down the throat of the American public by conservatives. Three game-changing accomplishments stand out:
We don't hear about all this day in and day out, so it's a nice reminder that our vote is, indeed, making a huge difference in spite of the powerful forces resisting change.
- Green Stimulus: Progressives, Obama keep promise to jumpstart clean energy, economy—conservatives keep promise to jumpstop the future. The stimulus represents the single biggest increase in clean energy investment in U.S. history—$100 billion public investment aimed at driving, which is pulling in another $100 billion in public investment. Huge investments in energy efficiency, renewables, transmission and smart grid, and mass transit and train travel are already having a big impact, for instance, helping the wind industry survive and thrive in the great Bush-Cheney recession.
- Regulatory Breakthroughs: Obama will raise new car fuel efficiency standards to 35.5 mpg by 2015, which is the biggest step the U.S. government has ever taken to cut CO2. And the Obama EPA declared carbon pollution a serious danger to Americans’ health and welfare requiring regulation. The EPA has begun the process of developing regulations, and while that is a very imperfect way to address global warming, it ensures that the country will take some action in the event Congress can’t.
- First-ever climate bill advances: In June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a landmark bipartisan climate bill, 219 – 212. It would complete America’s transition to a clean energy low-carbon economy, begun in the stimulus, ultimately driving $100 billion a year in total U.S. investments in clean energy technologies and industries.
While you can give yourself a pat on the back for helping make all this happen, we have a LOT of work to do in the next year, while strong progressive majorities exist in Congress.
Those of you in swing states, especially, please call your Senators and ask them to support and strengthen the Kerry/Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act: 202-224-3121.
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