Last week Whit Gibbons, a local environmentalist of note, wrote in his column about the environmental accomplishments of Presidents past. Which seemed, to this reporter, to beg the question: "What about Presidents present?"
President Obama, in one of his 2008 pre-inaugural web sites, described the Obama-Biden hopes for environmental/energy progress:
1) By 2012, 10% of our electricity would be from renewable resources, and 25% in 2025.
2) By 2015 we were to have 1 million Hybrid cars (with efficiencies of up to 150 MPG) on the road.
3) By 2018 we would be saving more oil than we then, in 2008, imported from the middle east and Venezuela combined.
4) By 2018 we were to expect 5 million new jobs following strategic investment of $150 Billion in ways to catalyze efforts to build a clean energy future and,
5) By 2050 a cap-and-trade program would have reduced greenhouse gasses from the U.S. by 80%.
The accomplishment of these goals would put this President's place in environmental accomplishments on a reasonable tract alongside those notable Presidents of the past. Grant started things off with Yellowstone Park in 1872. Teddy Roosevelt was perhaps the most environmentally active president having established the U.S. Forest Service, and having preserved over 70 areas, including the Grand Canyon as part of our National Park system. And then came Nixon.
Campaign chicanery aside, Richard Nixon did preside over the establishment of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act--legislation which, along with the creation of the EPA, places him to a large extent on a par with President Roosevelt as an environmental activist.
Of course, President Nixon was a Republican. One might only speculate how much success he may have had in moving America forward, environmentally, if the goal of the "loyal opposition," the Democrats, had been to do whatever they could to make Nixon a one-term President. Perhaps if that had been the way the political game was played in the 1970's we in Aiken, SC would still have a Langley Pond that occasionally was tinged with a bit of red or yellow dye and was virtually devoid of edible fish life. We would also still, from time to time, enjoy the joys of hydrogen sulfide in the morning whenever the wind carried those odiferous byproducts to us from the International Paper plant downstream from the Augusta Municipal Airport. The clean water and clean air acts seem to be working--thank goodness!
But back to the issue at hand, what about the stated goals of the current administration? In a cursory review of public laws passed during the previous two congresses--the 111th and 112th , fifteen (+/-) environmentally relevant laws appear to have been enacted. Of these fifteen, only one seems to follow from the goals stated by the President at the beginning of his first term. That law, PL 111-364, the " Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010" should partially address the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The remaining laws ("Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water," "Asian Carp Prevention and Control," "Pinnacles National Park Act," etc., e.g.,) while environmentally beneficial were not pursuant to the President's stated goals. Apparently Congress will do what Congress will do without regard for the goals and desires of the Presidency (which may not be what the President would prefer even if it is the way things are.)
In spite of this congressional/presidential disconnect, we do seem to be moving in the direction of some of those stated goals regardless of an apparent lack of specific supportive legislation. Some of the goals may come to pass due to other forces, economic advisability, perhaps. In any case, it may be hoped that the President will make some progress on his list during his second four years.
One of the goals which is proceeding well is number one on the President's list: By 2012, 10% of the nation's electricity would be from renewable sources. According to the government's statistics, in 2011 13% of our electricity was generated from renewable sources.
If you think this warrants an "attaboy," why not let the President know. And, while you are in the email/contact page mode, if you are from this reporter's neck of the woods, why not congratulate some of our local representatives too. With all the negative press being generated about congressional inaction, maybe a little encouragement would be appreciated.
And, if you feel the least bit at a loss for words, just copy a bit of this article and send it to your representatives. In any case, they'll get the message. Of course, as always, feel free to write me about your environmental concerns and, again, thanks for visiting Examiner.com.
CSRA's South Carolina National Legislative Representation:
http://www.lgraham.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.EmailSenatorGraham [Lindsay Graham]
http://www.scott.senate.gov/contact.cfm [Tim Scott]
https://joewilson.house.gov/forms/writeyourrep/default.aspx [2nd District]
https:// https://jeffduncan.house.gov/contact-me [3rd District]
CSRA's Georgia National Legislative Representation:
http://www.chambliss.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Email [Saxby Chambliss]
http://www.isakson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-me [Johnny Isakson]
https://forms.house.gov/barrow/webforms/issue_subscribe.htm [12th District]
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments [President Obama]
http://www.speaker.gov/contact [Speaker of the House Boehner]
email: email@example.com [Democratic Leader of the House Pelosi]
http://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=ContactForm [Republican leader of the Senate McConnell]
http://www.reid.senate.gov/contact/index.cfm [Democratic leader of the Senate Reid]
email: firstname.lastname@example.org [Augusta Environmental Examiner Geddes]