Oh What A Difference A President Makes
We’re not even 85 days into the Obama Administration and yet the signs of environmental change are all around us. The EPA announced today its formal determination under the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gases are pollutants that endanger public health and welfare. This is only the latest in a string of announcements that show just how quickly Obama is moving to undue much of the environmental damage done by the Bush Administration (if I miss anything please post a comment):
- Including in his budget a strong commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions dramatically by 2050;
- Committing $13 billion to high speed rail;
- Including almost $50 billion in direct money and tax incentives for energy efficiency, a smart transmission grid and renewable energy in the stimulus bill;
- Beginning the process of regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act by finding that carbon dioxide and other global warming gases are pollutants that endanger public health and welfare(see Jonathan’s post on land use and the Clean Air Act here);
- Considering whether to use the Clean Water Act to regulate ocean acidification — caused by changes in the marine pH from increased greenhouse gas emissions (see related posts by Holly, Dan and Sean;
- Cracking down on mountaintop removal mining, which involves blasting the tops off mountains to get at coal and ends up filling streams with nasty detritus (see Holly’s post here);
- Announcing that California will in all likelihood get its waiver to implement tough new standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars;
- Signing the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, which designates two million acres of wilderness off limits to development and extends federal wild and scenic river protection to a huge number of new stretches of river (see Rick and Sean‘s comments about the Act)
- Reconsidering a Bush Administration decision not to phase out cancer causing dry cleaning chemicals (see Tim’s post here);
- Reversing last minute Bush Adminstration efforts to gut the Endangered Species Act (see Eric’s post here).
Of course not all of these accomplishments have resulted in actual change: enacting a plan to reduce carbon emissions dramatically is far from certain and there’s been some criticism of Obama for turning cautious on the issue. But it’s hard to read the list of accomplishments so far and not marvel at the change from eight years of Bush.
Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…READ more