Photo via Pressmedya
Okay, sure--Obama's only been in office for a couple months now, and we're getting all congratulatory. But there's a reason for that: many of the ideas he and his administration have come out with so far are pretty damn good ones. And there have been plenty of them, too. These 7 are the best he's come up with so far. Now, so far, most are just that: ideas. So we're not congratulating Mr. Obama as much as celebrating the coming of an era where science is highly regarded rather than shunned, global warming is put under scrutiny rather than laughed off, and ideas like renewable energy and green jobs are embraced rather than ignored. Of course, time will tell whether Obama succeeds in achieving his green goals--but for now let's look at the proposals, ideas, and yes, some policies already underway that represent the best in Obama's green thinking.
Photo via World News
Funding Renewable Energy
Obama seems to know how important investing in clean and renewable energy is--it was a key part of his campaign rhetoric, and he's beginning to deliver on his promises. Maybe not with the amount of funding many would like to see, but he's stimulating very real progress on the alternative energy front nonetheless. First off, the stimulus led to $31 billion in alternative energy tax credits being approved by the senate, which will go a long way in promoting industry growth and stabilizing clean energy companies who're feeling the pinch (or the crushing weight) of the recession. There's also $2.5 billion for research and development of alternative energy technology alone, as well as $2.4 billion for hybrid electric car battery research. Promoting and funding renewables is vital to our nation's energy future--Obama has the right idea in throwing his weight behind it.
Photo via Countdown to Copenhagen
Getting a Carbon Cap off the Ground
A lot of people have a lot of problems with Obama's proposed cap and trade system. Senators didn't like the fact that he included it in his budget, industry insiders think that making companies pay for 100% of the permits (instead of giving some away for free) is too harsh and will damage the economy, and environmentalists feel that a target of 14% greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2020 isn't nearly aggressive enough. So why include it among Obama's best green ideas? Because he's the first president to take a serious stance on reigning in carbon emissions--and he's forced the topic into the national conversation in a way that the Lieberman-Warner bill never could. He's prompted the Democrats to unveil an even more aggressive bill. And by instigating the EPA to consider regulating carbon itself (more on that later) he's pushing the issue in a very big way. Obama's carbon cap may not be the best solution, but it's emblematic of his dedication and sincerity: his great green idea in this case is demonstrating to the American people that something needs to change in our attitude towards, and the way our government deals with, pollution.
Photo via Reuters
Joining the International Dialogue on Global Warming
Far from Obama's most revolutionary green idea and closer to a downright no-brainer, it's still worth highlighting his willingness to participate in the global dialogue on climate change. Especially since his predecessor all but forsook the idea (the delegates Bush sent to climate talks were straight up booed for their obstinacy). Obama has pledged that the US will take the lead in fighting climate change, and backed up his words by scheduling a number of meetings with 16 major economies to pave the way for an international climate treaty to be as successful as possible.
Photo via Conservative Vault
Building a High Speed Rail Corridor
Here's one that's already been approved, and is indisputably a great project: setting up a high speed rail corridor in the US. There was $8 billion in the stimulus allotted for building high speed rail, and $5 billion more in the budget to divvy up between states. The most common complaint here is the obvious one--$13 billion isn't enough. But it's $13 billion more going to high speed rail than last year--and it's attracting public interest. The private sector could be enticed down the line, and the government could be encouraged to continue funding as a result of this initial investment.