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Obama administration

Earthjustice has begun tracking the Obama administration's progress in rolling back eight years of environmental assault by the Bush administration. We've created a chart that grades President Barack Obama on how well he's done. After reading the chart, come back to this blog post and provide your own comments. We'll be updating the report card as actions warrant.

 

President Barack Obama handed out a passel of money today for "smart grid" projects, much of it going towards house electrical meters that can be controlled by power companies. The meters allow companies to manipulate how much electricity each house uses at any given time -- useful in times of power shortages and for being able to shift power from where it's least needed to where it's most needed.

Two years after Earthjustice successfully fought Florida Power and Light's plan to build the nation's largest coal plant near Everglades National Park, the state is taking a giant leap forward toward clean energy.

Today, President Barack Obama is touring FPL's new DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia —the largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.

"Instead of having a dirty coal plant to provide power, we have clean solar energy," said David Guest, managing attorney for Earthjustice in Florida. "It is gratifying to know that Earthjustice helped change public policy and moved our state to more common-sense technology. We are finally putting the sunshine back in the Sunshine State."

In June 2007, Earthjustice gathered evidence and experts which helped convince the Florida Public Service Commission to consider the full costs associated with polluting coal plants. It was the first time that global warming played a role in a PSC decision, and the first time in 15 years that state regulators rejected a new power plant.

At 25 megawatts, it will generate nearly twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.—Nevada's Nellis Solar Power Plant.
 

Regional officials with Alaska's Tongass National Forest, the crown jewel of our national forest system, recently announced plans to log nearly 1,500 acres of old-growth forest in two roadless areas. The Central Kupreanof and Sue timber sales jeopardize intact blocks of old-growth habitat within one of the last remaining temperate rainforests in the world.

The signs of greening are everywhere. Paris has thousands of bicycles for rent—with the first half hour free (Velolib, it's called), and there's hardly anywhere in the city you can't get to in a half-hour. There are bike lanes as well, though they're in the middle of the sidewalks, so you must be alert. Almost no bike riders wear helmets for some reason ; maybe it's the great health-care system. Cars in general are tiny, though there are way too many. Stores are full of « bio » (organic) products of all sorts.

The talk is all of Obama's Nobel prize, with people here as preplexed as everywhere else at the timing. Obama himself is wildly popular, seemingly with nearly everybody. It's quite refreshing not to be ashamed of being an American again after the past eight years' nightmare. We send the best and will try to write again (from Turkey next time) soon.
 

A lot of surprise—including from President Barack Obama himself—greeted today's announcement that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. After all, he's only been in office nine months. But, the Nobel committee said it isn't achievement so much as the hope of achievement that Obama has brought to the world, especially when it comes to climate change:

"Thanks to Obama's initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting."

This award could encourage Obama to actually lead the U.S. delegation two months from now when it heads to Cophenhagen for the world climate summit. Who knows, he might even arrive with something from Congress in his back pocket.

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken another positive step towards reining in the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining.

Today, the EPA declared that all of the 79 permits it was reviewing would violate the Clean Water Act and must undergo more in-depth environmental assessment by both the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers. This is a welcome action that Earthjustice called for two weeks ago.

Now, the two agencies have 60 days to review each permit. We can't imagine that they can reach any other conclusion than that these mines will cause irreparable harm to the waterways, land and communities of Appalachia. The permits must be denied, and beyond that, the Obama administration should follow up by reinstating and enforcing clean water rules gutted by the Bush administration.

Imagine a day when expectant parents can paint their nurseries, stock them with playthings and baby supplies, and do it all with the security of knowing that each and every chemical in those products has been tested for health effects and found safe for their newborn.

Last night, the Obama administration got us one step closer to that shimmery non-toxic future.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.