Past and Future of Obama Energy and Environmental Policy
Just before the USA presidential election of 2012 here is a brief report of Barack Obama’s energy and environmental policy over the past four years. What was achieved during these years and what are Obama’s plans going forward.
Gas production: under President Obama, domestic gas production has increased every year, starting from 2008. Currently, the U.S. imports 2.6 million fewer barrels of oil and petroleum products than it did four years ago. And while Obama refused to sign off on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, taking into account the fact that such a huge project can cause significant harm to the environment. However, he approved fast-tracking a segment of the Keystone pipeline.
Clean energy: by the end of 2012 electricity generation from renewable sources is expected to double. The Obama administration has invested in more than 15,000 different clean energy projects. According to Obama’s plans by 2035 about 80 percent of electricity will be generated from an array of clean energy sources. Since 2008 more than a third of electricity generation has been wind power. And last year production of electricity from the solar energy was doubled.
Carbon pollution: the Obama administration has developed new standards of fuel efficiency which double the average fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6 billion metric tons. By 2020 Obama also set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28 percent.
Air pollution: under Obama the first-ever national limits for mercury and toxic air pollution were established.
Public land conservation: in 2009 Obama signed expansions of wilderness protections, setting aside more than 2 million acres of as protected wilderness as well as 26 million acres of historically significant landscapes and more than 1,000 rivers. The president administration has also invested restoration projects in the Everglades, Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes.
During Obama’s term there have been also disappointments, along with those accomplishments. Obama failed to persuade a Congress to pass new limits on carbon emissions. A cap-and-trade bill has been on the back burner.
Nevertheless, Obama enacted new greenhouse gas rules for power plants, which now have to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour.
It is clear that members of environmental community always have different opinion concerning whether government leaders have done enough. It remains to be seen whether Obama will get the opportunity to continue his environmental policy, or Romney with drastically different position on energy and environmental issues will become the new law.