Green Obama

Fri, December 19, 2008

Moms & Politics


As President Bush announced yet another bail-out, this time for American automakers, it’s hard to remember that there are other important problems that will need some serious attention when the administration takes over in January.

One of those is a real energy plan. Energy and the environment aren’t getting the most play in the media right now, what with one financial crisis after another. I’m pretty sure that poor Charles Ponzi is turning over in his grave at the moment.

But President-elect Obama has a plan that I hope will move us in a better direction toward protecting the environment and making our country a little more “green.” According to Obama’s transition website, he wants to:

Create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future,

Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined,

Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars — cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon — on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America,

Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025, and

Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Plenty of “green” bloggers are talking about whether this plan can work, but many seem happy with the appointment of Carol Browner and others to oversee the plan that the president-elect has proposed. But turning the country around in terms of environmentalism will take more than good people with good ideas.

Diane MacEachern at Big Green Purse blog ponders what our country would look like with just a philosophical change — instead of playing catch-up and trying to fix what we’ve polluted after we’ve polluted, she says we should focus more on prevention:

We’re trying to catch up on shutting down toxic waste sites. Catch up on eliminating dangerous chemicals from our personal care products. Catch up on – and this is a really big one – removing all the climate-changing carbon dioxide we’re emitting into the atmosphere.

It’s a frustrating game, since we never really manage to get caught up. America’s environmental legislators and regulators are mostly focused on clean up – trying to solve a problem after it’s occurred. No one, it seems, remembers the sensible adage, “First, do no harm.”

So… what would happen if the game changed? What transformations could occur if, instead of focusing on cleaning up problems after the fact, we made it a priority to prevent them in the first place?

Preserving and saving our environment extends beyond just the Environmental Protection Agency, though. The Department of Agriculture has a role and with former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack slated to take over at Agriculture in January, Kelly Leahy at Green Daily blog says she’s not so thrilled about what that’s going to mean for the environment:

I was rather disappointed … to hear that Obama chose … Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture. After all of the lip service that Obama paid to the small farmer and changing the industry, he chooses someone with a long history of supporting bio-tech industries and biofuels.

Why is that an issue for the environment? Many believe that corn-based fuels actually harm the atmosphere because there isn’t much reduction in greenhouse gases. So it’s hard to know whether Vilsack, as Secretary of Agriculture, will back away from his support of corn-based ethanol in favor of other more environmentally friendly ideas.

And speaking of cleaner air, Jenn at The Green Parent is wondering what’s going to happen to make the air inside our kids’ schools better:

…I was pretty disturbed to see this report that just came out from USA Today that took a look at the amount of air pollution that can be found around our children’s schools. The report, entitled The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America’s Schools, compared industrial pollution information collected by the Environmental Protection Agency with the location of the nation’s 128,000 schools to determine which schools had the highest exposure to toxic air pollutants.

There’s no question there is a lot on Barack Obama’s plate the moment he steps into the Oval Office on January 20. Let’s hope that the overwhelming magnitude of fixing the economy doesn’t eclipse making our planet a little bit cleaner.

Cross-posted from BlogHer where PunditMom is a Politics & News Contributing Editor.

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5 Responses to “Green Obama”

  1. Gayle Says:

    Thank you for paying attention to this. It appears that some of our instincts were right, and some of the campaign was a sham. For the sake of our country, I hope this isn’t true. Gayle

  2. Gayle Says:

    I’m sorry, to clarify (it’s late at night) my comment about our instincts was directed at the previous post about Rick Warren giving the invocation at the inaugeration, particularly his opinions on women.

  3. Kelley Irish Says:

    As a Michigan resident I have to tell you we at least have a bit of hope that our state will no longer go belly up.

    Some Common Sense Ideas from the Teacher’s Lounge

    In Case the president elect cares- how about giving American’s who buy American cars a tax break. More American’s would buy American cars and create jobs for American workers! It seems to me this would be a win/win situation.

    How about giving companies who relocate their manufacturing base back to the US 2 years of no property tax? Again creating jobs held by people, who do pay taxes?

    Reform of the public School system may be as simple as restoring the ability to discipline and expell students. If you get the gangs OUT of the schools-the teachers can actually teach. If we have less paper work to fill out and less tests to give we have more time to teach. What job has their employees taking 2 quizes ans 3 tests each weeks? Let’s require every single publically funded University to partner with a public school.

    How about letting everyone forced to use 401K’s a window to pull their funds and convert them to Roth IRA’s, or CD’s., without a tax penality? Couldn’t the banks benefit form the extra cash?

    How about matching tariffs on imported goods? Put the same dollar amount tariff on products coming into this country that is placed on our produces going out to the same place?

    Since Native American’s have a long history of living in harmony with the planet-how about diverting the tax revenues generated by the Native American Gaming establishments into a green fund?

    How about Congress giving up their four thousand dollar raise to show support for all of the unemployed?

    How much money is spent on medical and education for workers that are here illegally? Can we afford to continue. Maybe some of the jobs that are created could actually ENFORCE our immigration laws.

  4. BeyondGreen Says:

    We really need to get serious about becoming energy independent. This past year and the record gas prices played a huge part in our economic meltdown. The one single fact of historically high gas prices seriously damaged our economy and society.The average family went broke filling up the family cars alone. Added to that were the sharp increase of groceries and every consumer product due to increased production and shipping costs passed on to us. Utility companies had record price hikes. And, while we do the happy dance at lower prices at the pumps OPEC is planning deep cuts in production to raise the price per barrel back up to between 75-100 per barrel. We spent 168 BILLION on the last economic stimulus pkg that did nothing to stimulate our economy. We are spending billions upon billions in bailouts. Why not spend some of these billions to get some alternative energy projects set up on a national basis? Create cheap clean energy, create badly needed new green collar jobs, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil! I can’t think of a more win-win situation for our nation. It cost the equivalent of 60 cents a gallon to charge and drive an electric plug in car. The electric could be generated from wind or solar.If all gasoline cars, trucks, and suv’s instead had plug-in electric drivetrains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota.Get with it! Utilize free sources such as wind and solar. Stop throwing away money on things that don’t work. Invest in America and it’s energy independence. Create cheap clean energy, create millions of badly needed green collar jobs. Put America back to work. It is a win-win situation. We have to become more proactive citizens, educate ourselves and demand our elected officials move this country forward into the era of energy independence. Jeff Wilson has a profoundly interesting and informative new book The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW outlines a plan for America to wean itself off. http://www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com.
    He also has a fascinating article published on a blog called How Much Electricity Does It Take To Replace Gasoline. You can read it @ http://planet.betterplace.com/profiles/blogs/how-much-electricity-does-it

  5. PunditMom Says:

    So many excellent points, I can't address them all. It is hard, though, to feel too much sympathy for the car manufacturers when historically US products have been inferior to foreign-made. I've owned American cars, Japanese & German cars and at least with my experiences, foreign made cars were much better.

    As for Congress giving up its raise, I say Amen to that!


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