WARNING: this is an opinion piece. I will try to present facts, but I’m not an unbiased news source.
Oh boy. Whether you are rooting for the guy who got Clint Eastwood to babble to an empty chair (Mitt Romney), or the guy who is tap dancing as fast as he can in the White House to the “be patient. hope is on the way” song (President Barack Obama), you know this is a critical crossroad in our country’s history. The ideologies of the two main political parties have gotten so strange that by 50-year-old standards Obama would be considered conservative and Romney wouldn’t be taken seriously at all.
I was always a Hillary gal, but in 2008, I rallied behind the man of hope and was surprisingly inspired when he indeed took office. The country was hitting some harsh realities and the mere whiff of hope and change created a magical sense that we could suck it up and go through our growing pains and band together to become a stronger nation again. Lots of airy rhetoric and it worked . . . for like 5 minutes. Then the backlash of opposition turned the beltway into crazy town with all kinds of crazy talk about demolishing access to women’s healthcare; getting rid of the EPA; and giving personal rights to corporations. Ok. I’m probably exaggerating on these things, but that’s how it felt.
The Tea Party faction became cement in the intestines of our federal government to the point of painful and dangerous legislative constipation. Seems to me it is a miracle ANYTHING happened these last 3.5 years!
Obama proved to be less effective at Presidential governing than he was at campaigning. Most liberals feel that he compromised too much; the conservatives never enough. It’s been a tenuous and rough go for Obama’s first term (and possibly only) the oval office.
While lacking luster, did his policies keep us from going deeper into economic disaster? Hard to tell, but I’ve been trying to pay attention to his policies regarding the environment, energy and agriculture (GMOs specifically). He’s got a bit of a track-record regarding these things, where Romney has none. Although if you look to the RNC platform, it is easy to see where Romney draws his environmental and energy planks from.
In my opinion, as a Green Diva, Obama has better environmental and energy plans than Romney overall (and as I stated earlier somewhat of a track-record). It’s an imperfect plan that involves steps towards energy independence via homeland/offshore drilling and tapping into natural gas reserves presumably via fracking. This concerned me deeply and I decided to run our own poll our the GD Facebook page. Here’s what we got so far:
How do you feel about the DNC plank on energy, which includes steps towards greater oil independence, but also includes new drilling and tapping natural gas reserves (which presumably means fracking)?
- A step in the right direction – I’m voting for Obama: 65%
- Not acceptable – I’m voting for Romney: 4%
- Need to learn more about both party’s stance on drilling & fracking: 4%
- This issue doesn’t affect my decision – I’m for Obama: 17%
- This issue doesn’t affect my decision – I’m for Romney: 5%
- This issue doesn’t affect my decision – I’m not voting for either of them: 5%
Here are a few great comments from green divas & dudes that took this GD poll:
Ok. Let’s look at how candidate turned President Obama did on 2008 campaign promises regarding environment and energy.
2008 Obama Campaign Promises Kept
- Doubled federal spending for research on clean fuels
- Increased funding for EPA
- Encouraged water conservation efforts in the West
- Increased funding for national parks and forests
- Increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
- Encouraged farmers to use more renewable energy and be more energy efficient
- Worked toward deploying a global climate change research and monitoring system
- Improved climate change data records
- Worked to build natural gas pipeline from Alaska
- Raised fuel economy standards
- Required 10 percent renewable energy by 2012
- Invested in all types of alternative energy
- Enacted consumer tax credit for plug-in hybrid cars
- Encouraged individuals and business to conserve electricity
- Required more energy-efficient appliances
- Created job training programs for clean technologies
- Provided tax credits for automakers to build fuel-efficient cars
- Required states to provide incentives for utilities to reduce energy consumption
- Supported high-speed rail
2008 Obama Campaign Promises Broken
- Promised to restore superfund program so that polluters pay for clean-ups
- Promised to establish a low-carbon fuel standard
- Promised to create a cap-and-trade system with interim goals to reduce global warming
2008 Obama Campaign Promises Compromised on*
- Create incentives for tree planting and carbon sequestering
- Increase funding for organic and sustainable agriculture
- Protect forest service lands from more roads
- Weatherize 1 million homes per year
- Work with UN on climate change
- Require more production of biofuels
- Include environmental and labor standards in new trade agreements
*PolitiFact.com has kept track of Obama’s campaign promises and you can see fairly good explanations for the compromises (and why they are considered compromises) as well as ratings for all of the promises kept and promises broken on the ObamaMeter.
What Obama has done for the environment so far . . .
- Passed the Recovery Act which includes funding for several environmental improvement plans, such as habitat restoration and water quality improvements
- Passed the first comprehensive National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, the coasts, and the Great Lakes
- Signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 which expanded land and water conservation (Protections in place for two million acres of federal wilderness, thousands of miles of trails and more than one thousand rivers was a result of this act)
- Reduced environmental & health impacts of mountain coal mining through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the EPA, the Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers on June 11, 2009
- Supported sustainable communities through the creation of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to break down traditional silos among the Federal agencies for housing, transportation, and environmental protection
Obama on GMOs
Obama on Fracking
Mitt Romney’s campaign site has an interesting page on energy, which focuses primarily on Obama’s failure and little on his own plan.
Here’s an excerpt from Obama’s Failure: Unfortunately, the first three years of the Obama administration have witnessed energy and environmental policies that have stifled the domestic energy sector. In thrall to the environmentalist lobby and its dogmas, the President and the regulatory bodies under his control have taken measures to limit energy exploration and restrict development in ways that sap economic performance, curtail growth, and kill jobs.”
Here’s an excerpt from Mitt’s Plan: As president, Mitt Romney will make every effort to safeguard the environment, but he will be mindful at every step of also protecting the jobs of American workers. This will require putting conservative principles into action.
Highlights of Romney’s Energy & Environmental Plans
- Wants to amend the Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide (?)
- Wants to establish a fixed timetable for all resource development approvals and create a one-stop shop to streamline the permitting process for approval of common activities
- Wants environmental laws to properly account for cost in regulatory process
- Intends to expand the Nuclear Regulatory Commission capabilities for approval of additional nuclear reactors designs and ensure that licensing decisions for reactors on or adjacent to approved sites are complete in two years.
- Wants to open America’s energy reserves for development through fracking and the use of the Trans-Canadian pipeline that will bring Canadian oil to the U.S.
- Wants to prevent overregulation of shale gas development and extraction.
- Focused on energy independence with little regulation
see Mitt Romney’s energy plan (note: according to his official campaign website, he doesn’t have an environmental plan)
Mitt on Fracking
According to Mitt Romney’s 2011 Plan for America, “While fracking requires regulation just like any other energy-extraction practice, the EPA in a Romney administration will not pursue overly aggressive interventions designed to discourage fracking altogether. States have carefully and effectively regulated the process for decades, and the recent industry agreement to disclose the composition of chemicals used in the fracking process is another welcome step in the right direction. Of critical importance: the environmental impact of fracking should not be considered in the abstract, but rather evaluated in comparison to the impact of utilizing the fuels that natural gas displaces, including coal.”