Dear Mr. President: Climate Change

Dear President Obama,

This is my first letter. Hope you’re well. I’m having a baby soon, and as such have been thinking a lot about the future. And honestly, I’ve been feeling kind of dejected and depressed on the environment and climate front, so I thought I’d just go straight to the top and see if you had anything to cheer me up.

I was wondering, Mr. President, what are you going to do about climate change? You seem to acknowledge that climate change is real, already here, and presents many very serious problems to the future of the US and the world. You have said as much in speeches throughout your presidential candidacies (though much more in 2007-8 than last year). I’m not asking philosophically, this isn’t a rhetorical question. It’s a request for direct policy/regulatory/executive actions that you plan to take to begin addressing climate change?

It’s obvious to anyone with ears that Congress is a nightmare for accomplishing important tasks; they’re like a bunch of children and I don’t envy you having to go through their playground to pass legislation. I know the odds that Congress will addresses the problems of climate change are quite low. Still, you are President of the United States, Barack Obama. There is not one person on earth who has a larger tool-box than you do for tackling serious problems. Not one. And you know the problems and you have smart people around you who (hopefully) know the solutions. And yet, it seems like you’ve been hesitant to use them.

In your State of the Union, you said: “I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

That’s not encouraging, Mr President. Not that regulatory actions are not necessary and important parts of climate change action, of course they are. This is not encouraging because this kind of rhetoric does not communicate anything about what you or your cabinet might do. And, if I’m feeling cynical, it seems just a passing remark with little intent and contrary to the energy “successes” like increasing oil production in the US, which your team takes great pride in. If the problem is carbon, and the problem is as bad as you and I know it is, that’s not helping.

Which gets us to the point of this short letter: what are you going to do, Mr President? Actually? Your administration has done great things on CAFE Standards for motor vehicles,  and taken steps at the EPA to start the process of beginning to regulate and limit toxics like mercury and carbon on new coal plants. Good work on those things, by the way. But we’ve got a real big carbon problem. A huge one. Catastrophic, potentially. And our future will need many many more of these kinds of policy and regulatory changes, and we’ll need them much more frequently and a on a larger scale. This is just the case, and I’m pretty sure you know it. I didn’t plan to give you advice; you are the President, please forgive me. But there’s some advice anyway.

So, I’d love to hear some of what you are thinking. Are you going to release strict carbon standards on existing coal plants? What about the tar sands? Are you going to approve or reject Keystone XL? Can you tell us anything more?  What are we going to do?

Thanks, and good luck. Have a good day.

czfinke.

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