Arianna asserts Obama has shown "timidity" in governing. On climate and clean energy policy, he has been anything but!
Future historians will inevitably judge all 21st-century presidents on just two issues: global warming and the clean energy transition. If the world doesn't stop catastrophic climate change -- Hell and High Water -- then all Presidents, indeed, all of us, will be seen as failures and rightfully so.
In that sense, what team Obama has accomplished in the year since he was elected is nothing less than an unprecedented reversal of decades of unsustainable national policy forced down the throat of the American public by conservatives. Three game-changing accomplishments stand out:
- Green Stimulus: Progressives, Obama keep promise to jumpstart clean energy, economy -- conservatives keep promise to jumpstop the future. The stimulus represents the single biggest increase in clean energy investment in U.S. history -- $100 billion public investment aimed at driving, which is pulling in another $100 billion in public investment. Huge investments in energy efficiency, renewables, transmission and smart grid, and mass transit and train travel are already having a big impact, for instance, helping the wind industry survive and thrive in the great Bush-Cheney recession.
- Regulatory Breakthroughs: Obama will raise new car fuel efficiency standards to 35.5 mpg by 2015, which is the biggest step the U.S. government has ever taken to cut CO2. And the Obama EPA declared carbon pollution a serious danger to Americans' health and welfare requiring regulation. The EPA has begun the process of developing regulations, and while that is a very imperfect way to address global warming, it ensure that the country will take some action in the event Congress can't.
- First-ever climate bill advances: In June, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a landmark bipartisan climate bill, 219 - 212. It would complete America's transition to a clean energy low-carbon economy, begun in the stimulus, ultimately driving $100 billion a year in total U.S. investments in clean energy technologies and industries.
All that remains for Obama to claim the title as the green FDR is getting 60 votes or more for Senate passage of a climate and clean energy bill. That now appears likely thanks to the breakthrough Senate climate partnership
between Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Kerry (D-MA). Indeed, E&E News's latest analysis shows, "At least 67 senators are in play"
on climate bill. And Graham and Kerry are set to meet "with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, as well as with Obama's top climate adviser, Carol M. Browner, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to discuss a possible compromise
." If these White House negotiations succeed, then I also think an international climate deal is likely, with the framework be laid out in the Copenhagen meeting this December, and details finalized next year after Obama signs a domestic bill.
All this together won't guarantee that we preserve a livable climate, but it will give future Presidents -- working in concert with other countries -- a fighting chance to do so.
That said, conservative denial and obstructionism remains strong, and a climate bill could still fail if team Obama does not remain vigilant. Obama is fulfilling his promise in the climate and clean energy arena, but much hard work remains.
So, one year after the election, what do you think Candidate Obama would think of President Obama? Tweet your response (our Twitter hashtag is #OneYearLater), or post it in the comments section.