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.