Second Term Will Test President’s Commitment to TACK NRDC Calls on White House to Rein In Carbon Polluters, Reject Tar Sands Pipeline and Arctic Drilling
Sandy destruction © Rex Features 2012; power plant © Dennis MacDonald/age fotostock/Getty Images; mine © Garth Lenz; oil rig © Gary Braasch; polar bears © Steven J. Kazlowski ; dolphins © Doug Perrine/Seapics.com;
hat does $270 million buy these days? Not much, at least when it comes to American elections. That’s how much Big Oil, Big Coal and the rest of the fossil fuel industry spent last year trying to get their chosen candidates elected in November — all in a con certed attempt to put the nation’s energy policy squarely in the hands of those who question the reality of climate change. What they got instead was a rude awakening. In race after race, voters rejected candidates whose only answer to America’s energy needs was “drill, baby, drill.” Whether in the presidential campaign — in which energy policy took center stage — or in key Senate races across the country, the winning candidates were those who vowed to rein in fossil fuel polluters and move the country toward a clean energy future. The entire issue of climate change was thrown into stunning and tragic relief just prior to the election, when the East Coast was struck by Hurricane Sandy. As residents in New York, New Jersey and other hard-hit areas struggled to recover from the type of catastrophic storm that climate experts predict will only become more frequent with global warming, the region’s governors and mayors were grappling with the reality that their states are at the mercy of rising seas. “Hurricane Sandy raised the stakes for voters on Election Day,” says NRDC President Frances Beinecke. “And in state after state they responded with a very clear message: They’re tired of bogus debates about climate change and foot-dragging on clean energy. They want action.”
The day after the election, NRDC called on President Obama to confront the urgent threat of global warming by cracking down on carbon polluters and rejecting massive new dirty fuel projects. “We can no longer allow power plants to spew unlimited amounts of the carbon pollution that is driving climate change,” says Beinecke. “And we can’t afford climate-wrecking projects like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.” NRDC has applauded President Obama for taking crucial steps in the right direction during his first term. He issued groundbreaking standards that will double the fuel
Program. “It’s time for the administration to go after existing power plants, which are the singlebiggest source of our nation’s carbon pollution.” America’s aging fleet of mostly coal-fired power plants emits twice as much carbon pollution as all the cars on the road. Not only do we have the technology to slash those emissions, but the administration doesn’t have to wait for Congress to act. The Supreme Court has already ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to set these new carbon-busting standards. Even if the White House presses ahead with these bold measures, their benefits will be diminished if it gives a green light to proposed dirty fuel projects like the Keystone XL pipeline,
Above: Shell’s oil rig just 10 miles off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge last October. Right: Family of polar bears in the Arctic Refuge.
economy of the average car and proposed limits on carbon pollution from new power plants — decisions that came after vigorous campaigns by NRDC and other advocacy groups. “But we all know what needs to be done next,” says Dan Lashof, director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air
which would carry almost a million barrels a day of corrosive tar sands oil 2,000 miles from heavily polluting tar sands fields in Canada to Gulf Coast refineries. “The Keystone XL would help detonate one of the biggest carbon bombs on the planet,” says Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, director of NRDC’s International Program. According to