President Obama and Former Governor Romney differ on nearly every issue facing Americans today and none more so than energy and the environment. Obama is protecting our health, creating jobs, and reducing oil dependency. Romney believes dirty industries can police themselves and thinks we shouldn’t do anything about climate change.
Some of the biggest polluters in the country have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in support of the GOP’s radical agenda. Romney represents these special interests, while Obama stands up for the public’s interests—clean air, clean water, the health of our families, jobs that cannot be outsourced, and a stable climate. It’s hard to exaggerate how much is at stake.
President Obama has generated historic progress for the environment and he aspires to do more. The policies President Obama has put in place took gumption and creativity and they will make a very real difference in the kind of environment we have now and in the future. Consider his record – facts and reality, not rhetoric:
Raised Fuel Economy Standards for Cars to 54.5 MPG
Obama made history in August by nearly doubling fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks, building on the standards he finalized in 2011. Combined, these standards will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump over the life the program and could cut our oil imports by as much as one-third by 2030. Oil imports are not just a military or security issue; over the last 20 years, oil imports have accounted for well over half of our trade deficit, sucking money out of Americans’ pockets and sending it abroad. The clean car standards also represent the biggest step America – and probably any country in the world — has taken to reduce carbon pollution and combat climate change.
It took presidential leadership to broker an agreement for strong standards that automakers, labor unions, and environmental leaders could all support. Obama stayed the course and kept the standards high. Already Americans are benefiting from the push toward better performing cars. Detroit automakers are enjoying record sales. More than 150,000 Americans have jobs making parts for and assembling clean cars—hybrids, electric cars, and other advanced vehicles that weren’t even available 10 years ago. And consumers can find nearly 60 fuel-efficient models in showrooms today—up from 27 in 2009. Romney has said that he would undo these important standards that will help clean up the environment and save you money.
Protected Children from Mercury and Other Air Toxins
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that damages developing brains in children and fetuses. A study by the National Academy of Sciences found that mercury exposure was likely to increase the number of children “who struggle to keep up in school and might require remedial classes or special education.” Mercury makes it harder for these children to compete in today’s knowledge economy. Yet the largest sources of the pollution—power plants—have been free to release as much mercury as they wanted. Obama changed that. In December 2012, he set the first-ever national standards to reduce mercury from power plants. The new safeguards will also reduce toxins that contribute to asthma, heart attacks, and cancer, saving up to 17,000 American lives, preventing as many as 120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms, and avoiding 11,000 heart attacks every year, according to the EPA. These health benefits are expected to generate up to $140 billion in savings per year by 2016. Not surprisingly, Romney has said he opposes these life-saving standards.
Presided over the Largest Increase in Clean Energy in American History
Obama understands that expanding clean energy resources will reduce America’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels and secure America’s position at the forefront of the global energy market. Thanks in part to his policies; roughly 35 percent of all new power built in the United States in the last four years came from wind. The solar industry is 10 times the size it was just a few years ago and employs more than 100,000 Americans. Total clean energy investment rose 35 percent since 2008 to a record $55.9 billion in 2011, overtaking China for the first time in four years. The clean energy sector has not only generated explosive economic growth; it has also strengthened America’s fight against climate change. Clean energy is the future; dirty energies are the past. The Ryan plan, which Romney supports, would reduce funding for Research & Development for clean energy by 90 percent by 2014, while supporting $2.4 billion in tax breaks for dirty energy companies.
Set the First-Ever Limit on Carbon Pollution from New Plants
Millions of Americans are still recovering from the summer’s record-breaking heat waves, wildfires, and the worst drought in 50 years. Climate change is intensifying these extreme weather events, and while Romney belittles this threat, Obama has confronted it head on. In March, the EPA announced the nation’s first limits on carbon pollution from new power plants. Now our nation can start creating a 21st century power fleet that uses the latest clean technologies and reduces the danger of climate change. Americans welcomed these groundbreaking standards. People sent more than 3 million comments to the EPA in support of the carbon limits—more than the agency has ever received on any issue ever. Romney, of course, merely makes fun of addressing climate change, even after a season where climate change related weather disasters cost this country at least xxx billion dollars – dollars that we’d have to spend to grow our economy if not for the droughts, floods, and fires.
Sparked Major Gains in Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency is the fastest, cheapest, and cleanest energy resource America has. It saves consumers and businesses money, reduces global warming pollution, and keeps energy dollars here at home. The Obama administration has created standards to help deliver those benefits to more Americans. With the support of manufacturers and consumer groups, the Department of Energy finalized standards for 19 different products, including refrigerators, clothes washers, and dishwashers. These standards will save more than 28 quads of energy through 2035—equivalent to about a third of annual energy use in the United States—and save consumers nearly $80 billion on energy bills.
Protected Ocean Life with the First National Ocean Policy
America’s ocean riches provide an enormous source of recreation, wonder, and economic activity.
Ocean-related tourism and recreation alone generated more than 1.8 million jobs in 2009, and our oceans contribute more to the nation’s economic output than the entire U.S. farm sector.
Yet the nation never had a comprehensive approach to managing our marine resources until Obama established the National Ocean Policy. This policy is major step forward in ocean, fishery, and coastal protection. It provides a blueprint for restoring and protecting our seas. It also helps determine how to address some of the biggest challenges facing our oceans, from ocean acidification to pollution and threatened water quality. The policy ensures that the more than 140 laws and 20 federal agencies governing activity in our oceans and Great Lakes will work together to sustain our oceans and coasts for generations to come. Although Romney has not weighed in on this issue in recent months, when Governor he initiated the Massachusetts ocean planning initiative, which is now a model for the national marine spatial planning initiatives laid out in the National Ocean Policy.
Created a Blueprint for Protecting Public Lands while Developing Clean Energy
Clean energy is one of America’s most powerful weapons against toxic air pollution and climate change, and some of our nation’s best wind and solar resources can be found on Western landscapes that belong to the American people. Obama has taken a landmark step by creating the nation’s first program for ensuring that solar projects on public lands maximize clean energy potential and preserve ecological treasures at the same time. The program steers development away from sensitive wildlife and wildlands resources and toward more appropriate solar energy zones – balancing clean energy with conservation. This is a win-win approach: it’s better for developers who want to move forward quickly with clean energy projects, and it’s better for the public who wants their special areas protected. Romney’s plans for the public lands include more dirty drilling and giving less say to the American people about how they are managed.
Obama hasn’t achieved all the goals he set for himself in his first presidential campaign and not all of his policies have garnered NRDC Action Fund support.
But, the choice this November is clear: if you want to make our air safer to breath, hold polluters accountable, unleash clean energy innovation, restore our natural resources, build American prosperity, and confront climate change, then Obama should win your vote.