Obama Keeps The Climate-Jobs Connection

Bill Scher

As I discussed yesterday, David Leonhardt of the New York Times counseled President Obama to drop using green jobs as a selling point for address climate change. Thankfully, last night Obama did not listen.

Obama made clear that tackling the climate crisis can be accomplished while growing the economy:

We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar — with tens of thousands of good American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before — and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen…

…we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will…

…Four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. And we’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year — let’s drive down costs even further. As long as countries like China keep going all in on clean energy, so must we.

The President offered only two specific, relatively narrow proposals: 1) an “Energy Security Trust” which would take some revenue from oil and gas development in federal areas and funnel it into renewable fuels, and 2) a “Race to the Top” program where states compete for federal funding by implementing innovative energy efficiency strategies.

Left unspecified is what exactly he will direct the EPA to do, circumventing Congress, that will cut greenhouse gas emissions. EPA has the legal authority to issue regulations that cut emissions, it just can’t complement those regulations with subsidies that can help businesses and consumers manage the transition to a clean energy economy. You need Congress for that.

And left unknown is if Obama’s tweaking of McCain — along with the pressure from new EPA regs — will prod him or other Republicans to return to the negotiating table and pass legislation that will best address climate while also investing in the economy.

But we do know that Obama is not going to pursue a climate agenda and forget about jobs, which is both the right politics and the right policy.

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