11/05/2012 01:22 pm ET Updated Jan 05, 2013

The Only Presidential Candidate Who Calls Climate Change a Threat


In a year of sweltering heat, withering drought, some of the worst wildfires on record and catastrophic hurricanes that have ravaged our Gulf coast and Mid-Atlantic states, we have one presidential candidate who thinks climate change is a political punch line. The other rightly calls it a threat to our planet.

Climate change puts us all at risk -- the 47 percent, the 99 percent and the 1 percent -- whether our state is red or blue. We need a president who understands what's happening to our world and will act -- and has acted -- to address this grave and gathering threat.

When it comes to our energy future, the candidates have laid out a clear choice as well. President Obama wants to invest in energy efficiency, promote renewable power and protect our health. He's led the country forward toward each those goals.

Mitt Romney would bet our future on the fossil fuels of the past.

This is a choice between responsibility and recklessness -- and the choice is ours to make.
We can continue to move forward with a clean energy revolution that reduces the carbon pollution that is warming our planet. Or we can turn back the clock on needed change -- and turn our backs on the science and extreme weather before our very eyes.

In his first term, Obama secured a historic agreement with the automobile industry that will nearly double the gas mileage of our cars by 2025. It will save consumers $100 billion a year at the pump. It will reduce our oil consumption by 3 million barrels a day -- nearly half our oil imports. And it will cut our carbon pollution from new cars in half.

Obama has proposed standards to reduce carbon emissions from new coal-fired power plants. In a second term, he could do the same for existing plants.

He has promoted important gains in the energy efficiency of our homes, workplaces and the appliances we use daily. On his watch, wind turbines have grown to provide 4 percent of our nation's electricity, with the help of a modest tax credit that is supported by Obama, along with many Republican members of Congress. Romney has pledged to end the credit.

Romney claims these important gains in renewable fuels and efficiency have come at the expense of domestic fossil fuel production. The facts, though, tell a different story.

At 6.2 million barrels a day, U.S. domestic oil production is up 24 percent since Obama was elected. Natural gas production is at an all- time high.

Part of the reason, though, is that we are drilling in shale, using an industrial technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

This dangerous and often destructive process has put our communities, ranches and farms at risk. It threatens our water, wildlife, air and lands. And it is racing ahead across the country at a rate that has outpaced the public safeguards we need. Obama has begun to put measures in place to protect our waters and land; Romney has pledged to give states control of oil and gas development on federal lands.

We'll continue to produce oil and gas at home, no matter who sits in the White House the next four years. The question is whether we'll insist that it be done responsibly or let the oil and gas companies do it their way.

We have a long way to go to address the challenge of climate change, embrace the opportunities of a clean energy future and ensure the health of future generations. Obama, though, has made a good start.

We never expected his work would be completed in a few years. We need to rally around the chance to advance our progress in a second term.

This election season has taken its toll -- on all of us. The condescension, pandering and incessant spin. The outrageous levels of corporate spending. The disappointments, distortions, deceptions and lies. I'm as tired of it as anyone else.

Now, though, is no time to falter. This is no time to lose heart.

This election matters, and matters greatly, especially to those of us who care about what happens to our environment, who care about the kind of world we will leave to our children.

We have a choice on Tuesday between two men for president. Barack Obama is the best choice for our future. We hold within our hands, each of us, the political power to make that choice. That is the miracle of American democracy. It begins, for us all, with a single vote. Stand up this week and make it count.