Obama’s Second Term: Second Chance to Improve Environment

December 3, 2012

President Obama's second terms provides second chance to improve environment“With great power comes great responsibility” is something others are hoping President Obama takes into account, during his second term running the United States and in his attempts to better the environment.

As the White House website says, “the Obama administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe, water we drink and land that supports and sustains us. From restoring ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay and the Everglades, to reducing mercury pollution from power plants, we are bringing together Federal agencies to tackle America’s greatest environmental challenges.”

It’s easy to talk the talk, but what about walking the walk? Obama has been given a second chance at one of the most indicative and stressful jobs in the world, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that he can live up to everyone’s expectations.

Here are just a few areas that some believe are in need of a drastic change for a better future.

1. Climate Change
If you recall, in President Obama’s 2012 victory speech he said, “We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened up by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

During Obama’s first term and the debates with Romney, one of his biggest failures was never truly addressing climate change. This time around, he promises to change that. Unfortunately, in the eyes of some environmentalists, Obama has already taken two steps back, instead of two steps forward.

Recently, TreeHugger reported that Obama signed two laws benefiting climate change. One that excludes U.S. airlines from European carbon emissions fees and another that will auction off 20 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil companies. Hmm . . . that doesn’t sound promising.

Yes, the first time around Obama made efforts to restrain greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from coal-fired power plants, and he was even endorsed by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, because of his stance on improving climate change.

However, if the president doesn’t start making bigger statements, he may lose his captive eco-conscious audience.

2. Keystone XL Pipeline
From marches to protests to outright anger, many have showed their dislike for the Keystone XL Pipeline and Obama’s wishy-washy decision making.

The $7 billion pipeline has been a touchy subject, especially since Obama did not willingly reject the 1,700-mile project last year. Even celebrities like Ian Somerhalder, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Redford and Daryl Hannah avidly spoke out against its construction.

Of course, the president eventually made the decision to stop the pipeline, but some felt he could have jumped on the anti-pipeline bandwagon more quickly than he did.

TransCanada, the pipeline developer, hasn’t given up on the project. If built, the pipeline will transport oil from Canada through the Great Plains and all the way to the Texas Gulf Coast.

For those against Keystone XL, the Obama administration is expected to make its final decision in 2013.

3. Energy Development
Finding new ways to create energy in this country is quite exhausting. New developments are constantly emerging, and thanks to the president we have seen some progress in green energy.

For example, Obama hasn’t been shy in his choice of natural gas for green energy achievements. By using this particular source less carbon is emitted compared to other fossil fuels.

Of course, there is a downside, with that being air pollution and fracking. To achieve natural gas, hydraulic fracturing is the answer, which is the extraction of natural gas from shale. Many are opposed to this technique, as it blasts a sand and chemical solution into rock releasing gas with it possibly causing underground water contamination.

Even though the United States has been able to rely less on coal and oil and have seen less carbon pollution thanks to natural gas, environmental risks still linger.

For those worried about Obama’s natural gas strategy, here’s more stress to add to your concerns. On Wednesday, Nov. 28, the president signed a measure allowing the construction of a natural gas pipeline in New York. He hopes this will make natural gas more accessible in the region.

Like any issue, several advantages and disadvantages exist. It’s up to Obama to make the safe, environmental and right choices.

What environmental issues do you hope the POTUS fixes and stands up for, during his second term? Let us know.

-Allyson Koerner

Photo Credit: Wikimedia/Hiperpato
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