Obama Climate Change: Why the President's Promises Are Just Rhetoric


President Barack Obama made headlines upon declaring, "we've got to do something about climate change," during his State of the Union address on February.

With a majority of Americans expressing support for planning the impacts of climate change and global warming, as well as the funding of additional studies into increasing clean energy resources and reducing pollution, such as the 2012 study by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale Project on Climate Change Communication: Bridging Science and Society, the president's statement was received with enthusiasm and broad support.

Unfortunately, in what has become the president's trademark, his promise to "do something" about climate change was just doublespeak, akin to his pledge of transparency or considering pot smokers a low arrest priority. FireDogLake has done an excellent job covering the current administration's quest to withhold information from the public, which can be read here, here,  and here.

If Obama's past fibs don't give people pause to his commitment to take action on mitigating climate change a recent Bloomberg article provides some insight.

The Bloomberg article states Obama's administration plans, "don't require congressional action, such as pushing energy efficiency standards for appliances, clean-energy production on public lands and regulations to curb carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants."

So, by doing "something about climate change," what Obama really means is keeping the status quo. According to Whitehouse.gov, "clean energy" sources include, among others, developing biomass, natural gas and coal.

Unfortunately for the planet, this "do nothing about climate change" attitude is prevailing in the courts and popping up administratively as well.

A case by the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) against the United States Bureau of Land Management would have forced the agency to require the use of readily available greenhouse gas reduction technologies as a required condition of owning oil and gas leases in Montana.

U.S. District Judge Sam Haddon dismissed the lawsuit on June 14, on the grounds the plaintiffs lacked standing as the emissions from future drilling activities from the leases in question, about 80,000 acres, would be too small to make a  "meaningful contribution,"  to global greenhouse gas levels.

According to the WELC, in Montana alone, leaky oil and gas drilling operations on public lands emit at least 1.8 billion cubic feet of methane in to the atmosphere every year, or the equivalent of $180 million in natural gas sales over a 20-year period.

As acknowledged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the oil and gas industry are among the worst climate polluters of both greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane.

Without efforts to rein in their levels CO2 will tick ever closer to the 400 ppm mark and methane, 21 times as potent at trapping heat than CO2, will continue to increase to be trapped in the atmosphere as well.

Another recent decision, this one handed down by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shut down studying climate change as well.

During a June 18 hearing on a trio of coal terminals in Washington and Oregon, Jennifer Moyer, acting regulatory chief for the Corps told Congress the agency will study emissions tied to the construction of the terminals but "the effects of burning coal in Asia or where ever it may be is too far to affect our action."

The Corps' says it's scope doesn't include review of how shipping coal, mined from the Powder River Basin in Colorado and Montana, via train will impact climate change either.

The company involved, Ambre Energy, an Australian company, is actually seeking a $10 million loan from Montana's Coal Tax Trust, a move made at the same time the company seeks to take over the Decker, Montana mine it now co-owns with Cloud Peak Energy but is seeking to take over. A deal reportedly worth $64 million. If approved, the loan would be issued by a private bank but backed by the state of Montana.

It's another potential deal showing how capitalism, not climate change, drives decisions. Obama plays by the same book and we shouldn't expect any real "promises" coming from him in regard to lowering greenhouses gas and getting serious about climate change.