President Barack Obama came into office determined to address America’s persistent energy problems. These challenges included protecting our health, reducing oil use, slowing global warming, and boosting our international economic competitiveness. All of these challenges remain despite the administration’s energy achievements, which is why President Obama should include a comprehensive clean energy agenda in his State of the Union on January 25 that addresses them. He should also warn Congress that he would veto congressional efforts to block or slow such progress.
Progress will become more difficult in the 112th Congress. President Obama faces a Congress with many more climate science deniers as he enters the third year of his term. Even though 2010 was the hottest year on record, following the hottest decade, these members do not believe that there is a problem. They will therefore oppose all solutions. Moreover, stagnant job growth intensely focuses politicians on job creation, so lies from Big Oil and Dirty Coal about the employment impact of clean energy and pollution reductions will fall on more susceptible ears.
In his upcoming State of the Union address President Obama should remind the nation and Congress about the imperative to save lives, reduce oil use, grow our economy, and cut pollution. After his speech he should focus first on using existing executive authority for action given increased congressional antagonism toward clean energy proposals and the number of newly elected climate science deniers.
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