Denver – Last night, President Obama delivered his State of the Union Address to Congress.
Environment Colorado delivered the following statement:
“The president’s commitment to clean, local energy makes sense – it is good for the environment, our families’ health, and the economy. That’s why Americans overwhelmingly support clean air and water, and they support energy efficiency, wind energy, solar power and electric vehicles. Environment Colorado enthusiastically supports the president’s agenda to protect our children’s health and clean water, and to responsibly develop truly clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar, and incentivize energy efficiency. However, the president and the Congress need to do more to focus on these truly clean energy sources. Beyond cutting subsidies for Big Oil, we need to shift the nation away from oil and gas drilling which pose major risks to drinking water and air quality, our coasts and public lands, and the health of our families.”
Environment Colorado is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, please visit www.environmentcolorado.org.
President Obama has delivered overwhelming progress on protecting our health and environment, but there is more to do and in fact there are some things we definitely should not do.
CLEAN CAR STANDARDS – This past November, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation proposed new fuel efficiency standards that would double the current average fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks. The newly proposed standard of 54.5 miles per gallon has broad support, including from automakers, solar companies, smart growth and consumer experts, health advocates, elected leaders, and the environmental community. By 2030, analysis shows that the proposed standard would reduce annual global warming pollution by 280 million metric tons, which is roughly equivalent to shutting down 70 coal fired power plants for one year. In addition, in the same amount of time, President Obama’s clean cars standards would cut oil use by as much as 23 billion gallons, an amount equivalent to our imports from Saudi Arabia and Iraq in 2010, and save Americans more than $44 billion at the gas pump. The standard would also create nearly 500,000 new jobs.
CLEAN ENERGY GROWTH – Under President Obama’s leadership, America has become the world’s leader in clean energy investments. In order to move away from dangerous and polluting energy sources that wreak havoc on our air, land, and water, we must cut our energy use overall with energy efficiency and turn to truly clean sources of energy like wind and solar power. Development of these clean energy technologies will also spur tens of thousands of jobs for American workers. Last year, employment in the solar industry grew by 6.8 percent, ten times the national average employment growth rate.
LIMITING MERCURY POLLUTION – In December 2011, the President delivered an historic victory for public health by finalizing life-saving new standards limiting toxic mercury and other harmful air pollutants from the largest sources. In a display of resounding support for the strong standard proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in March 2011, a record 800, 000 Americans submitted public comments to the administration. Finally, after twenty years of work to safeguard our health, America’s biggest mercury polluters will now reduce their emissions of this and other devastating pollutants, saving 11,000 lives each year after the standard is implemented.
PROTECTING THE GRAND CANYON – Most recently, after more than 300, 000 Americans submitted comments to the Department of Interior in an enormous show of public support the Obama administration protected 1.1 million acres around Grand Canyon national park from new uranium mining claims, protecting a treasured natural landmark from toxic mining for the next 20 years.
That said we need to do more to ensure a truly clean energy future.
NUCLEAR ENERGY – Nuclear power puts the health and safety of millions of Americans at risk. According to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, “Too Close to Home,” the drinking water for 49 million Americans could be at risk of radioactive contamination from a leak or an accident at a local nuclear power plant. There are far cleaner, cheaper, and less-risky ways to get our energy. The United States should move to a future without nuclear power by retiring existing plants, abandoning plans for new plants, and expanding energy efficiency and the production clean, renewable energy such as wind and solar power.
GAS DRILLING – Hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling – a form of natural gas extraction rapidly spreading across Pennsylvania and other parts of the country – poses serious potential for harm to our environment and our health. Toxic fluids and millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater threaten drinking water supplies. Clear cuts and industrial machinery ruin our treasured landscapes. Blowouts and fires can occur at well sites, and drilling and extraction can contaminate the state’s air and water. These impacts put the health of Americans at risk – especially children and other vulnerable populations. We hope that the President will heed the words of his own U.S. Department of Energy Science Advisory Board’s Subcommittee on Shale Gas Production, which recently recommended “preservation of unique and/or sensitive areas as off limits to drilling . . .”
OFFSHORE DRILLING – Less than two years after the disastrous BP oil spill, it is abundantly clear that oil drilling remains a dirty and dangerous business. From the white sandy beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast to the rocky coves of the Gulf of Maine, there is no reason to risk our oceans and beaches when we have the technology to dramatically reduce our oil dependence.