Exclusive Interview: Obama Defeats Romney, Says We Must Tackle Climate Change
The president provides written answers to 10 critical questions about the environment.
In the lead up to the 2012 presidential election, mention of—much less discussion about—the environment was noticeably absent. President Barack Obama said that climate change is "one of the biggest issues of this generation" in September, but in months of campaigning it hardly came up. To the dismay of environmentalists, he didn't raise the subject once during the three debates with Mitt Romney—the first time since 1984 that neither candidates nor moderators broached the topic in a presidential debate. The politician who did the most to bring global warming into the race for the White House was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made it the focus of his endorsement of Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
His second term secured, Obama did touch on climate change in his acceptance speech early this morning. "We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet," he told supporters in Chicago.
Now, after so many months of silence on critical environmental issues, and with the president defending the coal industry during the campaign, there are many questions about Obama’s aims for the next four years. Audubon’s exclusive responses from the president may shed some light. President Obama provided written answers to 10 questions submitted to the campaign during the heat of the election season about climate change, energy policy, and other issues of interest to Auduboners.
What are your plans to address climate change?
Climate change is the one of the biggest issues of this generation, and we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits. Since taking office I have developed historic fuel efficiency standards that will limit greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles for the first time in history. My administration has made unprecedented investments in clean energy, proposed the first-ever carbon pollution limits for new fossil-fuel-fired power plants, and helped lower carbon emissions significantly within the Federal Government. Since I took office, the U.S. is importing an average of 2.6 million fewer barrels of oil every day, and our dependence on foreign oil hit a 16-year low. We are also showing international leadership on climate change, reaching historic agreements to set emission limits in unison with other emerging powers. I will continue these efforts to create an economy built to last—investing in clean energy, holding polluters accountable, and reducing our carbon impact.
What role do you see wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources playing in our energy future?
I know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the global economy in the 21st century. That’s why I have made the largest investment in clean energy and energy efficiency in American history and proposed an ambitious Clean Energy Standard to generate 80 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources like wind, solar, clean coal, and natural gas by 2035. Since taking office, electricity from wind and solar sources has already doubled in the United States. I am also calling on Congress to support incentives for clean energy that drive innovation and support clean energy manufacturing jobs across the country. We are boosting our use of cleaner fuels, including increasing the level of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline and implementing a new Renewable Fuel Standard that will save nearly 14 billion gallons of petroleum-based gasoline in 2022. Because of these actions, we are positioning the U.S. to be a world leader in the clean energy economy.
The Coast Guard, the United States Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, and hundreds of scientists say the industry is not prepared to drill safety in Artic waters. What is your position?