Monday, July 21, 2008

Barack Obama: Environmental Champion

From July 3rd, 2008


Environmentalism is not an upper-income issue, it's not a white issue, it's not a black issue, it's not a South or a North or an East or a West issue. It's an issue that all of us have a stake in - Barack Obama

Contrary to reports of my untimely demise I am still here I just have been having problems coming up with stuff to write about. I've written a lot of diaries on Obama's platform but there is one issue that I have not written about much. And it's a very, very important issue. A little something called our environment. Barack Obama has been a champion of the environment for a long time. In this diary I will take a look at his background on this issue and plans for moving our country and environment forward.

Obama's green past:

Early life and State Senate
Barack Obama isn't new to working on the environment. During his undergrad days at Colombia Obama did a three-month stint with a Ralph Nader offshoot group trying to get minority students at City College in Harlem to recycle. As a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago Obama fought for lead abatement in the Altgeld Gardens project. Obama's fought for the environment long before he got into politics.

When he did enter politics as a state senator Obama dove right into the tough environmental issues of the day. Here is a quote that Jack Darin, leader of the Sierra Club in Illinois gave to Grist Magazine

He's an incredibly quick study. He's not a scientist, but remarkably adept at analyzing the details of complex environmental issues, asking the right questions, and ultimately making the right policy decision for public interest.

That showed in his voting record. Illinois Environmental Council gave Obama a 100 Percent Environmental Voting Record Award in 2003, he was one of only six state senators to receive that award. When he ran for Senate the Sierra Club and League of Conservation Voters endorsed him over half a dozen other candidates who all seemed more likely to win the Democratic primary. In 2004 the LCV named him a 2004 Environmental Champion, one of 18 sitting and prospective members of Congress to receive the award. That's nothing to sneeze at.

U.S. Senate
Once Obama got to the US Senate he didn't waste any time getting to work fighting for the environment. He fought against lead paint, he introduced the Fuel Economy Reform Act which lead to the increase in CAFE standards that was passed into law last summer, he introduced the Oil SENSE Act to strip subsides from the oil companies which was later passed by the House and worked with clean energy hero Rep. Jay Inslee to introduce the inovative Health Care for Hybrids Act just to name a few things.

In the 109th Congress Obama earned a 96% score from the League of Conservation Voters

Obama's plan for a green future:

Obama laid out his platform on the environment in a speechlast October. Here are a few key points.

-100% Auction Cap and Trade Plan to Reduce Emissions 80 Percent by 2050:

Obama's plan would implement a cap and trade program that would reduce emissions to where the science says they need to be, 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. He would do this by auctioning off all of the credits from the cap and trade program instead of giving them right back to the Big Oil and Coal companies which is the problem with other cap and trade programs. This will make polluters pay. The revenue (30-50 billion a year) will go towards helping consumers with the economic transition, helping the development and deployment of clean energy and investing in energy efficiency.

Businesses don't own the sky, the public does, and if we want them to stop polluting it, we have to put a price on all pollution. It's time to make the cleaner way of doing business the more profitable way of doing business. - Barack Obama

-25 by 25 Renewable Portfolio Standard:

Obama would implement a requirement that 25 percent of the electricity in the United States would come from renewable sources such as wind, solar and geothermal by the year 2025. This would spur huge investment in green energy sources and create tons of new jobs as well as reduce emissions.

-Energy Efficiency

Improving energy efficiency is the fastest and cheapest way to reduce emissions. Obama would set a national goal of reducing the energy intensity of our economy 50% by 2030. That's very ambitious but it is needed. To do this he'd phase out the inefficient incandescent light bulb technology, invest in a digital smart grid, require all buildings be carbon neutral by 2030 and make the largest consumer of energy in America (the federal government) become a leader in energy efficiency among other things.

-Becoming Energy Independent

Obama's plan would reduce oil consumption by at least 35%, or 10 million barrels per day, by 2030. That would more than offset the equivalent of oil we are expected to import from OPEC nations in 2030 and would significantly reduce emissions. To do that he would raise fuel-economy standards for automobiles to 40 miles per gallon and light trucks to 32 mpg by 2020, increase funding for mass transit and bikes and help bring advanced vehicles such as plug-in hybrids and electric cars to the market.

-Making the U.S. a Global Leader on Climate Change
And finally and possibly most importantly Barack Obama would reengage the USA with the rest of the word on climate change and work to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Treaty that tackles the challenge of the climate crises head on and brings the whole world together as part of the solution.


Barack Obama understands the pressing challenges to our environment and he has strong plans to deal with them. It's personal to Obama, his daughter Malia has chronic asthma. Obama will be a leader on this pressing issue. Just take a look at what Mark Longabaugh, senior vice president for political affairs at LCV had to say about Obama to Grist.

Obama is by far one of the most compelling and knowledgeable politicians on the environment I've ever sat in a room with, I've been playing national politics for more than 20 years and I quite literally can't remember one person I've met -- even on a national level -- who was more in command of facts, more eloquent, and more passionate on these issues than Sen. Obama.

I don't know about you but that's the kind of person I want in the White House.

Let's make it a reality.

Get involved.


Respect. Empower. Include.

Yes. We. Can.

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