From Jimmy Kimmel Live to Jon Stewart to Rolling Stone, President Obama’s re-election campaign is gearing up with a strong emphasis on youth and particularly the left-leaning, activist youth vote.
Tapping into the same coalition that was instrumental in securing his victory in 2008 is a crucial part of the plan for 2012. It might be a harder sell this time around because of a fragile economic recovery, stubbornly high unemployment — especially for grads and younger workers trying to enter the workforce — and a well-financed opponent in Mitt Romney who will say just about anything true or not, including blaming the president for the economic disasters wrought by the Bush Administration, Wall Street and an obstructionist Republican Party dedicated blocking Obama’s every move.
Obama has also received mixed reviews on his approach to climate change, basically because he is a left-of-center politician and not the highly progressive one that many dreamed they were electing in 2008.
In the Rolling Stone interview, the president acknowledged that “internationally, we have not made as much progress as we need to make [on climate change]. Within the constraints of this Congress, we’ve tried to do a whole range of things, administratively, that are making a difference – doubling fuel-efficiency standards on cars is going to take a whole lot of carbon out of our atmosphere. We’re going to continue to push on energy efficiency, and renewable energy standards, and the promotion of green energy. But there is no doubt that we have a lot more work to do.”
Part of the challenge for people over the past three years has been the struggling economy, paying the mortgage, and high gas prices while trying to keep and/or find jobs, he continued.
“In that environment, it’s been easy for the other side to pour millions of dollars into a campaign to debunk climate-change science. I suspect that over the next six months, this is going to be a debate that will become part of the campaign, and I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way. “That there’s a way to do it that is entirely compatible with strong economic growth and job creation – that taking steps, for example, to retrofit buildings all across America with existing technologies will reduce our power usage by 15 or 20 percent. That’s an achievable goal, and we should be getting started now.”
That sort of idea is nowhere to be found in Mitt Romney’s approach to energy policy, contained in his 160-page platform document, “Believe in America: Mitt Romney’s Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth.”
One of the bills he’ll introduce on “day one” of his presidency will direct the Department of the Interior “to undertake a comprehensive survey of American energy reserves in partnership with exploration companies and initiate leasing in all areas currently approved for exploration.”
It sounds like Romney can’t wait to get in bed with Big Oil and King Coal on energy policy.
The plan says he will “streamline and fast-track approval processes” for exploration and extraction of oil while amending the Clean Air Act to “exclude regulation of carbon.” The focus will be on increased production and opening reserves to exploration and production. Renewable energy? Please.
This what he says about Obama’s “unhealthy” green jobs obsession: “As the Obama administration wages war against oil and coal, it has been spending billions of dollars on alternative energy forms and touting its creation of “green” jobs. But it seems to be operating more on faith than on fact-based economic calculation. To begin with, wind and solar power, two of the most ballyhooed forms of alternative fuel, remain sharply uncompetitive on their own with conventional resources such as oil and natural gas in most applications. Indeed, at current prices, these technologies make little sense for the consuming public but great sense only for the companies reaping profits from taxpayer subsidies.
“As for job creation, studies show that “green” jobs might actually hurt employment more than they help it.”
Here’s this tidbit on shale-gas extraction: “While fracking requires regulation just like any other energy-extraction practice, the EPA in a Romney administration will not pursue overly aggressive interventions designed to discourage fracking altogether… Of critical importance: the environmental impact of fracking should not be considered in the abstract, but rather evaluated in comparison to the impact of utilizing the fuels that natural gas displaces, including coal.” Wait. What?
There’s nary a word on the impact of climate change in the Romney plan, probably for good reason: Here are two quotes from Romney from speeches and interviews: “I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that. I believe that climate change is occurring. The reduction in the size of global ice caps is hard to ignore. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor. It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.” Wow! He said that?
But then, more recently he said: “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us. “My view with regards to energy policy is pretty straightforward. And that means let’s aggressively develop our oil, our gas, our coal, our nuclear power.” There’s the old flip-flopper!
The stakes are high and the choices clear in this election for those interested in continuing to protect the environment, to address climate change and to encourage the growth of a clean energy economy.
[Image: Obama by Justin Sloan via Flickr]