With approximately two years under Obama's belt, what has his administration done to help the environment? Here's a look at 7 big moves.
7. Offshore oil and gas drilling bans. It was a bit of an obvious call to put a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in the midst of the horrific BP oil spill last year. Nonetheless, it was an important decision. Going further, later on in the year, the administration decided to cut regulatory shortcuts for deep-water drilling projects. It didn't cut this fast-tracking for shallow-water drilling projects, unfortunately, but at least deep-water projects will receive more oversight. And, in December, the Obama administration extended some of the offshore oil and gas drilling bans that had been implemented in the summer for another 7 years.
6. Fast-tracking of clean tech patent approvals. To help the country roll out promising clean technologies faster, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has had a policy in place for about a year now to significantly speed up clean tech patent approvals. The program is reportedly doing well and helping more clean technology get to market and has been extended for another year.
5. EPA reversed largest Appalachian mountaintop removal permit in U.S. history. In a big move to help protect the mountains of West Virginia and the communities living in or near them, the EPA recently vetoed the largest single mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history. This was a huge, unprecedented step that hopefully signals a reversal of mountaintop removal coal mining policies in the U.S.
4. Cape Wind, large offshore wind farm near Cape Cod, finally approved. After years of delay, the giant Cape Wind offshore wind energy project in the Northeast, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., received approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior in early 2010. The offshore wind energy lease was signed a few months later.
3. Clean energy tax credits. Clean energy industries received a lot of support in 2009 when the Obama administration decided to give companies a "tax credit of 30% is for investment in new renewable energy manufacturing facilities and re-equipped or expanded facilities" as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This program has been highly successful at creating jobs and improving the economy and has now been extended for another year (2011).
2. Over $10 billion invested in high-speed rail. Trying to catch the U.S. up to other countries around the world, the Obama administration has dedicated over $10 billion clean, efficient high-speed rail projects around the country. While this has been a topic of controversy lately due to Tea Party leaders' illogical train hate, high-speed rail is popular in the U.S. and around the world for clear economic, quality of life, environmental, and social reasons.
1. The EPA ruled CO2 a pollutant. Due to the fact that CO2 is a major cause of global warming, the EPA finally ruled that CO2 was a pollutant and needed to be regulated in late 2009. With Congress essentially unwilling to address climate change, this ruling is likely to become a very important way for the U.S. to cut its global warming emissions relatively soon. To get things rolling, Obama recently transferred the regulation of greenhouse gases from refineries and coal plants emitting over 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases to the EPA. (Note: with plenty of support from the courts and science, climate zombies would have to find some really innovative, extreme ways to block the EPA from climate action now that this ruling is in place.)
Image Credit: ~C4Chaos via flickr/CC license