Monday, May 6, 2013

Today's Must-Read Piece on Barack Obama and Climate Change

P041111PS-0177Heading out the door in a few minutes for the groundbreaking for New Bedford's South Terminal, which hopes to service the Cape Wind project when it finally goes in the water late this year or early next, but first a few quick thoughts on Jonathan Chait's New York magazine feature, Obama Might Actually Be the Environmental President:
  • If coal & oil state Democrats and purple state Republicans don't like Barack Obama regulating carbon pollution through the Clean Air Act, Chait's piece is a reminder that they should blame Claire McCaskill, Jay Rockefeller, Lisa Murkowski, Lindsey Graham, Blanche Lincoln, and all the other "moderates" who blocked climate & energy legislation in 2010. That legislation would likely have blocked the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating industrial carbon pollution. But extreme Republicans and those "moderates" were successful in blocking it, so now we get the EPA regulations many of those same senators claim to oppose. 
  • It could've been an even stronger piece if Chait wasn't so hand-wavy about Keystone XL being important. Climate activists are making a stand on Keystone not just because of Keystone's direct climate impacts. We're taking a stand on it because, for as many positive things as Obama has done, he's been extremely reluctant to say no to new polluting energy projects, from pipelines to oil drilling to coal mining. 
  • It's a good reminder that despite Beltway media hype about presidential rhetoric and the bully pulpit, presidential powers are in reality limited by Congress. Bush couldn't completely destroy the environment in part because he was limited by Congressional Democrats. Obama can't completely save the environment because of the same handcuffs. 
Read Chait's article and let me know what you think in comments.
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