Archive for Obama
www.nytimes.com 21st January 2013
In perhaps a surprising move, President Barack Obama put climate change at the forefront of his inaugural speech. Eight whole sentences were devoted to the subject, more than any other. The focus on climate change comes after a comprehensive failure to introduce any legislation on the issue in his first term. This time around, the president plans to use his executive power to avoid opposition by Republicans in the House of Representatives. Climate change was also brought up in election-night speech where he related it directly to the rise of extreme weather. A number of steps will be taken to help the US tackle the issue of greenhouse gases. The main step will be the power given to the Environmental Protection Agency to clamp down on emissions from coal power-stations. Another is to increase energy-efficient standards in buildings and home-appliances. A third is to increase the development of public transport. Despite a failure to secure any legislation in his last term, emissions in the US still dipped 10% between 2008 and 2012, a result of the economic slow-down and moves towards energy efficiency by government and industry.
www.washingtonpost.com 21st November 2011
There has been much public protest in the USA recently over an agricultural bill that passed Congress last week. Within the bill was one passage essentially making it easier for the tomato sauce base of pizza to be declared a serving of vegetables. Although the move has been highlighted as ‘pizza is a vegetable’, the paper does not mention the word ‘pizza’ at any point. The argument therefore focusses on the sauce. The Obama administration wanted to change the current guidelines of tomato paste from 1/8 of a cup being nutritionally equal to 1/2 cup of vegetables to a more level pegging. Congress blocked this change essentially making it easier, and cheaper, for frozen pizza manufacturers to declare their product contains a serving of vegetables. Particularly in relation to school lunches, health food advocates have risen in arms against the decision. However, all schools meals are bound by federal regulations for calories (no more than of the daily recommended value) and fat content (less than 30 percent of the meal) but these are guidelines. According to a US Department of Agriculture, which writes the regulations, audit only 20% of schools in the US met federal limits on fat content. To conclude then: pizza isn’t a vegetable but the sauce that goes on the pizza is and, according to Congress, is equal nutritionally to four times the same volume of vegetables.
President Barack Obama made his priorities clear recently when he rejected proposals from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to tighten the national standard from smog. The decision angered environmental and public health groups who called it: ‘bald surrender to business pressure, an act of political pandering and, most galling, a cold-blooded betrayal of a loyal constituency.’ The move is being seen as the first important environmental decision made in President Obama’s campaign season. Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the EPA, was told that she could revisit the Clean Air Act standards in 2013, if the Democrats were re-elected. Republicans and industry lobbyists praised the move but there have been other decisions that have not gone their way. Previously, the Obama administration stated that it was going to delay a key decision on the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline until after the 2012 elections. Fears are afoot that the Democrats are abandoning their environmental promises after the Democrats also announced a significant expansion of oil drilling in the Arctic and the Gulf of Mexico. Commentators have stated that these moves highlight the White House’s growing awareness of the cost of ‘environmental regulation in a battered economy’.
e360.yale.edu 2nd November 2011
Quoted from source:
‘One of the Obama administration’s signature environmental proposals — requiring tough new fuel efficiency standards for cars — is under attack from a powerful lobby of car dealers. President Obama had forged an agreement with major U.S. automakers requiring that automobiles would get an average of 54 miles-per-gallon by 2025, nearly double the current efficiency standards. After taking billions in government bailout money, carmakers like General Motors and Chrysler were under intense pressure to agree to the new standards, which are currently being formulated. Now, however, thousands of U.S. automobile dealers are supporting Republican legislation that would upend that agreement and soften the fuel efficiency standards. The bill, introduced into the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, would block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from being involved in fuel efficiency decisions, leaving the matter up to the Department of Transportation, which has traditionally supported a more gradual jump in efficiency standards. The car dealers say the agreement between Obama and the automakers bullies consumers and dealers into accepting overly strict mileage standards that will significantly increase the costs of cars.’
e360.yale.edu 1st April 2011
Quoted from source:
‘Five major U.S. companies, including shipping giants FedEx and United Parcel Service, have committed to partner with the Obama administration in support of a national effort to reduce fossil fuel consumption. As charter members of the so-called National Clean Fleets Partnership, the companies — along with AT&T, PepsiCo, and Verizon — have pledged to reduce their combined petroleum consumption by more than 7 million gallons annually through an increased commitment to renewable energy and electric vehicles. The announcement comes days after President Obama called for a one-third reduction in U.S. oil imports by 2025. The five participating companies operate some of the largest vehicle fleets in the nation, with a total of more than 275,000 trucks and vans. As part of the commitment, the companies have pledged to deploy 20,000 vehicles that use fossil fuel alternatives, including electric power and biofuels.’
www.guardian.co.uk 14th February 2011
In his 2012 Budget Report, US President Barak Obama has proposed opening up funding for clean energy by reducing subsidies for fossil fuels. The report would see the Department of Energy receiving a budget of $29.5 billion for the fiscal year, which is a mark up of 4.2% from the proposed 2011 budget. Of this, around $8 billion would go towards renewable energy such as wind and solar. To help make up this amount, Obama has asked Congress to take away $3.6 billion in oil and gas subsidies in addition to cut government funding for oil and gas research and hydrogen fuel programmes. Predictably, most of the Republican party, who now have the majority in the House of Representatives, oppose the budget claiming that the cuts would cost jobs in a time of economic uncertainty. The party has also vocalised its intention to reduce funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s programme to regulate greenhouse has emissions claiming that ‘Congress should be the one to decide whether to fight Climate Change, not the administration.’ Obama’s budget already slashes $1.3 billion of the EPA by reducing funds aimed at the Great Lakes Restoration and a clean diesel programme. According to analysts, the most likely condition in the budget to make it into law is extra funding for electric cars, as this could be paired with an opposing bill to increase money for natural gas fuelled cars.
www.nytimes.com 29th October 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The (US) coal industry, facing a host of new health and safety regulations, is spending millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign donations this year to influence the makeup of the next Congress in hopes of derailing what one industry official called an Obama administration “regulatory jihad.” Political spending by the coal industry is on track to exceed that of the 2008 cycle, when the presidency was at stake and Congress appeared determined to move forward with a national energy policy designed to address climate change by cutting back on the use of coal and petroleum. Over the last two years, the coal industry, along with its allies in oil and gas, electric utilities, manufacturing and agriculture, effectively killed any prospects for climate change legislation in the near future. But after two major coal industry accidents, a huge spill of toxic ash in 2008 and a West Virginia mine disaster in April that killed 29 workers, the industry is bracing for new federal action that it fears will curtail operations and drive up costs. Industry officials believe they face a hostile administration that could seriously harm their business with a range of new federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, mountaintop removal mining, air pollution, coal ash disposal and mine safety.’
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