Obama and the Environmental Lobby

Obama: Sorry, you guys. I know you thought I’d be a Democratic president and support green jobs and the regulation of polluters but, welllll *looks over at campaign team*

David Plouffe: We have to focus on jobs right now. If we don’t do something about these environmental regulations that are holding up job-creation, the Republican anointed one will slaughter us in the election. Especially if the economy continues to suck – which is looking pretty likely.

There were some opinion articles about how the Obama administration was holding up the job-creating (NOT potentially environment-killing, oil-spilling) Keystone XL pipeline to carry oil from the evil oil barons of Canada (Jon Stewart reference) to refineries in the States. The rhetoric from the GOP field started to focus even more on the job-killing regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency and most agreed that the EPA should be shut down. Lo and behold, the State Department gave a pass for the pipeline in it’s final environmental impact statement on Aug. 28 and “all signs point to the Obama administration approving the project by the end of the year, perhaps with modifications.”

Now, the Keystone XL pipeline will probably create jobs. Good.

It may also result in oil spills and threaten water supplies in the areas it runs through – TransCanada (the company responsible for the pipeline) said it will be much safer than the pipeline involved in the much cited Yellowstone incident since they plan to bury it deeper beneath rivers and streams. However, TransCanada’s other pipeline, Keystone I had twelve spills in one year and was recently shut down due to safety concerns. Potentially very, very bad. Especially if you live in Nebraska and depend upon an uncontaminated water supply to do your farming.

The oil will come from Canada rather than other countries, which shall not be named. Good.

The extraction of oil from the tar sands itself has a very negative impact on the environment – potentially polluting rivers downstream, requiring the destruction of forest and so on. Bad, but mostly Canada’s problem.

The access to more oil might (maybe) keep prices down. Hopefully. Good.

The real sticker here for environmentally conscious folks: tar sands generate 82 percent more emissions than conventional oil on a well-to-tank basis according to the EPA. Meaningless if you don’t think climate change actually exists but extremely bad if you do. This may explain why over 1,000 people have been arrested outside of the White House while protesting the pipeline.

SkepticalScience has an excellent, environmentally-oriented overview of the pipeline and oil extraction issue.

The Obama administration response to the protest against the pipeline and the concerns about it? Full speed ahead. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu indicated his support for the pipeline on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

Plouffe: Don’t worry! When the economy recovers, Obama will once again try to focus on GREEN jobs and environmental issues. All you have to do is vote for him again!

Sadly, it’s not like the environmentally conscious have a choice: they can vote for the eventual Republican candidate who will try to strangle the EPA into submission or they can vote for a disappointing Democrat who will at least pay lip service to environmental issues and maybe try to do something eventually.

At some point Obama might make the green voters so disillusioned and angry that they just won’t bother to go to the polls. Considering the alternative, though…

To further spike the guns of the Republican candidate, Obama decided to scrap plans to tighten regulations on ozone emissions. This came as a surprise to both the environmental lobby and the EPA. In the press release about the decision, Obama mentioned “the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.”

Obama: I support the EPA and businesses! Look!

Plouffe: But this has nothing to do with politics. Nothing at all.

What’s the story with these regulations? Basically, the current ones have been described by EPA chief Lisa Jackson as “not legally defensible” because they aren’t strong enough and scientists have all recommended tighter standards. Based on the upcoming rules, the EPA has gotten courts to delay litigation by environmental groups about the looseness of the restrictions.

Obviously, the tighter restrictions on the amount of smog-causing ozone in parts per billion that companies could emit would cost them lots of money. So they weren’t happy about it.

The front pageof the New York Times today about sums it up: “Obama Administration Abandons Stricter Air-Quality Rules” and “Zero Job Growth Latest Bleak Sign for U.S. Economy” ran above the fold, directly opposite each other.

Watch for continued occasions of Obama spiking the guns of the Republican candidates on regulatory issues.

Note: Italics indicate imaginary conversations/statements that never actually happened. Obviously.


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