#SOTU: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan
This post is part of a series on the RAC’s expectations and hopes for President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 28th.
Tonight during the State of the Union address, there is no doubt President Obama will mention his continued goals in fully enacting and enforcing his historic Climate Action Plan. While we commend the President on prioritizing climate action, since he announced his plan in June, the implementation of climate change curbing policies have hit many speed bumps and road blocks. Tonight, we hope President Obama will strongly reaffirm his commitment to the environment and combating climate change.
In 2009, President Obama established a carbon pollution reduction goal with the hope of lowing the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions level by 2020 to be 17 percent below the level in 2005. While ambitious, drastically reducing pollution by 2020 would be a huge step towards tackling the impact of climate change. Under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the EPA will establish a final rule on carbon pollution standards from new power plants by June of this year. Further, in the context of new international climate agreements to be finalized in 2015, we hope the President will make mention of the United States’ (and all of the major world economies’) responsibility to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, we hope the President will address the need to further invest in wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies. Federal tax incentives for wind power expired in 2013 and will expire for solar electricity in 2016. In the interest of shifting towards the use of renewable sources, the federal government needs to invest more in solar and wind than in oil and coal.
President Obama’s plan also includes measures of adaptation for areas throughout our country that are most affected by extreme weather events. We hope President Obama will address the development of innovative strategies in strengthening communities against future hurricanes, polar vortexes and floods.
We are reminded time and time again of our responsibility as Jews to be stewards of the environment. But tonight, at the State of the Union, we hope President Obama will similarly acknowledge his great responsibility as the leader of our nation to promote just environmental policies and initiatives. For the rest of his time in office, we hope President Obama’s actions will recall the words of Rabbi Tarfon’s: “We are not obligated to complete the task; neither are we free to abstain from it” (Pirke Avot, 2:21).