Tuesday, June 25, 2013

President takes on Climate Change, Flat Earth Society

I think all of us concerned with climate change were heartened by the President’s Georgetown speech on the subject.
The speech (and the accompanying plan documents) weren’t long on specifics and there were some areas left a bit sparse (notably transportation), but it represented a clear statement of Presidential leadership on one of the great issues of our time.
Most powerful point: Will direct EPA to adopt new rules governing carbon pollution from power plants.  Although he didn’t use the “c word” in his speech, coal is the issue.  In fact, he had some words of praise for natural gas as a transition fuel.
Second newsworthy point: Hold onto your hats on Keystone pipeline.  Looking more like a “no.”
Most memorable quote: “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.”
As to transportation, one could have wished for more.
Some specifics:
·      Continued support for alternative fuels, including a new initiative to add more alt fuel vehicles to the federal government’s own fleet.
·      Direction to federal agencies to support more “resilient” investments, including for Sandy rebuilding funds.  Does this mean a change in criteria for discretionary investments?  New design standards?

We do have a stated goal of  “building a 21st century transportation sector,” so hopefully there is room for more detail to be filled in.  How about proposing a new transportation reauthorization bill which begins to build that 21st century system, with lots of new technology, lots of transit, and real connections between land use and transportation – all funded by a major hike in the gas tax?  I understand that we don’t have a lot of hope right now in a House where the Flat Earth Society has a majority or in a Senate which is completely dysfunctional, but as the President says, we don’t have time to waste.

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