Text by Keith Rutowski
President Obama has been playing the green card for some time now—since before the campaign trail, actually. And despite a couple of questionable senatorial votes, most were willing to believe him. Now, over the past few months, Obama seems to have taken further action to silence the accusations that his tank is running on empty, green rhetoric.
In February, Obama called on Congress to pass a law that would cut carbon emissions and reduce the U.S.’s contribution to global warming. In nearly the same breath, and to assuage fears about the floundering economy, Obama outlined a vision of an America where business and the environment would not only coexist, but—dare I say—help one another, as well.
The proverbial ball started rolling shortly after the financial bailout when Obama pushed through $100 billion to be used for renewable energy development and increased home and office building efficiency. Although many still claim too little is being done to address environmental concerns, a recent series of legislative actions seem to demonstrate that Obama is just getting started. Here we’ve compiled a few sources’ takes on recent developments, along with short summaries of each.
The Guardian: Obama focuses on green economy in speech before Congress
In a meeting earlier this month, Obama spoke with top American business executives of the Business Roundtable on the prospect of a self-sustaining green economy. The two parties seemed to strike an accord, albeit a verbal one, which reaffirmed the idea that America needs to take a leadership position in renewable energy technology development. No surprise here, but how do you do this without neglecting the economy? It starts with a substantial increase in green-collar jobs. One of Obama’s suggestions is to begin developing the latest energy-saving products—solar panels, batteries—in states that have seen a recent “exodus” of jobs, such as Ohio and Michigan.
Treehugger: We Can Solve America’s Sustainability Challenges Together: President Obama’s Remarks To Business Roundtable
If the initiative to produce a green automotive industry had a theme song, it might very well be the Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road.” On Tuesday, an announcement was made that Obama denied Chrysler and GM additional bailout funds. The reason: neither company’s plans were green enough. Obama offered a “New Path to Viability” statement, which highlighted the necessity for both companies to plot more ambitious efficiency strategies. The decision is in line with the administration’s raised fuel economy standard for 2011. The administration has vowed to honor customer warranties, should the companies go bankrupt due to the associated improvement costs.
The Huffington Post: Obama’s GM, Chrysler Plan Document
Cash for Clunkers, a visionary concept championed by economist Alan Blinder back in July of last year, may see the light of day after all. The plan—which would offer drivers a monetary incentive for trading in their older gas guzzling vehicles—is gaining popularity in Congress and throughout the auto industry. H.R.1550, or CARS, as it’s known, would target vehicles at least eight years old and would pay owners up to $5,000 to take the dirty, inefficient cars off the road. The New York Times calls the plan a “public policy trifecta,” which would potentially benefit the economy and the environment and close the economic inequality gap.
More on Cash for Clunkers:
Treehugger: Historic Day For Protection: President Obama Signs Wild and Scenic Rivers Act Expansion
If environmental protection were a game during the NCAA tournament, then Obama might just have nailed a game-winning shot. Well, maybe not a game-winner, but an important one nonetheless. On Tuesday, with a mere flick of the wrist, Obama ostensibly saved 86 of America’s most cherished rivers. The expansion of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system means that 252 of our country’s most precious waterways are now protected, a figure that exceeded even the American Rivers organization’s hopes. It’s March madness. Here’s more from American Rivers.