Seeing Green in the Obama Administration

Seeing Green in the Obama Administration

Susan Cosier
Published: 02/06/2009

From a podium at the U.S. Department of Energy, President Barack Obama made yet another announcement declaring the need for a new energy policy yesterday as he took action to improve energy efficiency standards.

In just a few short weeks, President Barack Obama has made significant strides to enforce stricter environmental regulations, demonstrating a marked change from the Bush administration’s policies toward air, water, and energy. 

"Washington may not be ready to get serious about energy independence, but I am. And so are you. And so are the American people," said President Obama, according to the White House blog. "Inaction is not an option that is acceptable to me and it’s certainly not acceptable to the American people – not on energy, not on the economy, and not at this critical moment."

President Obama took the trip over the to DOE to announce more stringent energy efficiency standards for common household appliances, like lamps and microwaves. Led by the new DOE secretary, Steven Chu, the department will set new regulations for nine types of appliances by August of 2009.

The Environmental Protection Agency is also working on a directive given by President Obama. At the end of January, the new administration gave the EPA the task of collecting public comments on a Clean Air Act waiver that would allow California (and more than a dozen other states) to enforce stricter standards on car emissions.

In a press release, the new EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, said that the “EPA has now set in motion an impartial review of the California waiver decision. It is imperative that we get this decision right, and base it on the best available science and a thorough understanding of the law.”

Science also supports stronger limits on mercury from power plants, which the new administration and the EPA indicated it would set in another action today, reports the Associated Press. Mercury can create developmental problems in fetuses and children.

The Bush administration wanted to give mercury credits to power plants, which would not reduce the amount of mercury emitted, but would allow some plants to emit more than others. The policy was defeated in court, so the Bush administration appealed the case. Today, the Justice Department withdrew it from consideration by the Supreme Court.

And don’t forget the new administration's call to halt the environmentally damaging decisions made in the outgoing president’s last days in office.

The Obama administration’s tally of good environmental deeds is growing, to the delight of environmentalists and conservationists across the country. Of course it’s going to take a while to notice the changes, but based on what we’ve seen so far, we can expect good things.