Vice President Biden talks climate to Rolling Stone
Douglas Brinkley at Rolling Stone sat down for an hour with Vice President Joe Biden and the topic of climate change made up considerable bulk of the interview. It's worth a read to see how the current Obama administration views their progress on the crisis and what Biden, a potential front-runner in the 2016 Presidential race, has to say about where we go from here:
Rolling Stone: Despite the congressional opposition, do you feel the Obama administration has made inroads in the climate fight?
The thing I'm proudest of that we were able to get done in the first term was the Recovery Act. It had $90 billion in clean-energy programs. We had a lot of money going into research and development, and also tax credits for wind and solar energy. Republicans say to me, "That's not government's role," and I say, "Why in the devil do you think we have the investment tax credit you guys get for drilling for oil? How did that start?" The reason it started was six, seven decades ago, we didn't have the technology to know how many dry wells you had to dig before you hit a gusher, so we rewarded people for going out and exploring. We still spend $4 billion a year on that – and they don't even need it anymore. And yet they fight us on renewable-energy tax credits.
In terms of conservation, we've doubled the fuel-economy standards, which is going to save hundreds of millions of barrels of oil and about $1.7 trillion over time – without, basically, any Republican support. In the meantime, also, there has been at least a near-term boom in terms of natural gas. Theoretically, it would be nice not to have any carbon fuels. But natural gas is a hell of a lot less polluting. So in this budget, we're continuing to push for the transition from coal-fired plants to natural-gas electric plants. If you moved the trucking fleet in this nation to natural-gas-run vehicles, you'd save hundreds of millions of dollars and cut greenhouse-gas emissions. And you'd reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
But it's been hard to get our arms around, with this Congress, what you know you should be doing. You should be attacking the carbon emissions, period, and whether it's cap-and-trade or carbon tax or whatever, that's the realm in which we should be playing. In the meantime, the president is going to use his executive authority to, essentially, clean up the bad stuff, encourage the good stuff and promote private industry moving in that direction. If we had a different Congress, I think you'd see a more aggressive emissions legislation.
They go on to talk about why the President doesn't use the bully pulpit more on climate change and whether Obama will push for a carbon tax in this second term.