photo via flickr
President Obama has sent a special video message to his Obama for American supporters, with a preview of his State of the Union speech, which he will deliver on Tuesday evening. In the 4 minute video, there is plenty of talk about growing the economy and securing a better future for the "American family," but there is no mention of climate and energy reform. Granted, this is a sneak peak for a very specialized audience, but the lack of any signal about how hard he will push for energy reform is an ominous sign.
Obviously, the President faces a much different political environment than the one he inherited 2 years ago. The economy is on the rebound, as Obama says in the video, but Republicans, the overwhelming number of which deny the existence of man-made climate change, have won power in the House, and their control makes strong climate action unlikely.
John Boehner, the new Speaker of the House, is on record saying that "the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you've got more carbon dioxide. And so I think it's clear..."
Boehner's intransigence is only one of many problems Obama will encounter in 2011 if he wants to do something serious about climate change, like he promised to do in his campaign. Here's a truncated list:
--In December, the US, along with every nation except Bolivia, took steps toward a global climate pact. In November of this year, the negotiations will begin again, and the US will have little credibility if another passes with no action.
--Congressional Republicans has signaled that they want to strip the EPA of its authority to regulate carbon emissions. Obama and his allies will have to fend off these attacks.
--And the US continues to be left behind on climate action. The EU is considering a 30 percent cut from 1990 levels of CO2 emissions, and China's well publicized investments in green energy greatly outpace that of the US.
Obama will have to confront these challenges and many more when it comes to climate and energy reform. Look for signals in his speech Tuesday about his intended commitment to action, but this video release does not hint that he is serious about pushing an energy reform agenda now.