In the wake of hurricane Sandy, the week before the presidential election, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Barack Obama. He claimed, primarily, that the president would be the figure more likely to take definitive action on climate change, to steer the nation towards a low-emissions future.
Today, the mayor might be getting a whiff of buyer's remorse. Sure, during his victory speech, the president said that Americans are "threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet." But then, just a couple weeks later, he went and dropped two big fat carbon bombs on the planet.
The Hill points us to the first:
President Obama has signed a bill that requires U.S. airlines to be excluded from European carbon emissions fees.Whoops.
Environmentalists had framed the bill as the first test of the president's commitment to fighting climate change in his second term, but Obama quietly signed the measure on Tuesday.
The European Union wants to require all airlines that service its cities to pay an extraordinarily modest carbon fee; it'd amount to a few bucks per international plane ticket. But the U.S. airline industry threw a tantrum, and inspired lawmakers to rush to cobble together a jingoistically-worded "ban" (it protects "American sovereignty"! somehow!) on such international tariffs. So, as opposed to working with the EU to negotiate an agreement over what was truly the world's first example of an international carbon policy, Obama just signed the dumb thing into law.
Boom. Now, instead of enstating a globe-spanning mechanism that inspires airlines to reduce emissions and generates revenues for clean energy and carbon offset projects, Obama and the American Congress have ensured that the status quo, where old, pollution-belching airplanes still reign, has been secured.
Ready for carbon bomb number two? Of course you are: tomorrow, Obama is going to auction off 20 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil companies. That's every last available parcel in the Western Gulf. Boom:
Tomorrow, as part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold an oil and gas lease sale that will make more than 20 million offshore acres available, and represents all unleased areas in the Western Gulf of Mexico Planning Area. The Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale builds on two major Gulf of Mexico lease sales in the past year alone, a 21 million acre sale held last December and a 39 million acre sale held in June.Hooray. All told, that means Obama has auctioned off 80 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to gas and oil companies. In other words, he lit the fuse for another massive deep sea carbon bomb.
That's two major carbon bombs in as many days—and each perfectly timed to coincide with the global climate talks to boot. The world will certainly see how serious the United States is about fighting global warming now. Thanks Obama.