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What happened to climate change?

One of the most glaring omissions during Obama’s State of the Union address was the acknowledgement of climate change.  As the Senate and House return to Capitol Hill both sides are gearing up to attack the existing tool in place to address greenhouse gases – the Clean Air Act.

Republicans in the House Energy and Commerce are planning to roll out a bill in the next four to six weeks to challenge EPA authority over GHGs.  It is expected to attack the EPA’s air transport rules, its new source review requirements and its plans to impose new greenhouse gas standards large facilities.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is also expected to introduce legislation to permanently eliminate greenhouse gas regulation through the Clean Air Act. In the absence of climate legislation the Clean Air Act will provide the necessary regulation to reach our long-term emissions reductions.

Instead of addressing these threats to the Clean Air Act, Obama shifted the focus to the need for “clean energy” – stating the goal of an 80% clean energy sector by 2035 – a seemingly positive objective if the energy sources he referred to were actually clean.  But in this case, dirty energy by any other name is still dirty energy.  Obama’s clean energy plan includes dirty technologies such as nuclear reactors, coal, natural gas and biomass.  Learn more here

What happened to the Oil Spill Crisis?

The President’s oil spill commission released its final report and recommendation earlier this month. The day after the State of Union commission chairs hit both the Senate and House to brief key committees on congressional action necessary to prevent another oil spill the magnitude of what gushed into the Gulf of Mexico.  Unfortunately, Obama abandoned the commission by failing to mention the urgency of oil spill legislation to the joint chambers.  As important as “winning the future” is, protecting our workers, environment and local economies in the future should be the top priority.

I fully support Obama’s long held goal to repeal the oil industry’s massive federal subsidies, which he raised in the State of the Union, but I am disappointed that he elected to ignore the crisis of lax safety and environmental standards endemic in oil and gas activities.  I urge President Obama to remember that the state of our union is moot if the state of our planet continues to decline.

Allison Fisher is the Outreach Director for Public Citizen’s Energy Program