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Feb 022010

By Ashley Phillips
Green Right Now

When President Barack Obama was sworn into office just one year ago, he promised hope to a country in the midst of economic, environmental, and political turmoil. Environmentally, however, the Obama administration that promised “change” has fallen a few cents short, according to the environmental group, The Center for Biological Diversity.

The administration’s actions (and inaction) are speaking louder than its words, in the view of the center’s Obama Administration First-Year Report Card. Obama’s overall grade:  a “C” in protecting (and failing to protect) the environment.

The report cites multiple contradictory environmental actions from this past year. While the administration has reinstated the Clinton-era Road-less Rule that protects millions of federal acres from development, it allowed the logging of road-less areas in Alaska to proceed. Also, while the current administration continued to grant permits and leases for fossil fuel exploration and extraction, it has also offered several tax credits and subsidies for improving energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

The Center for Biological Diversity faults the administration in five areas:

Endangered Species – C

  • Only two new species were protected as endangered (fewest since the Reagan administration)
  • Weakened protection for gray wolves and polar bears

Energy – C

  • For authorizations of mountain removal
  • New coal-mining leases
  • Approved offshore oil exploration

Climate – C-

  • Failed to enact legislation regarding U.S. emission targets
  • Proposed GHG emission targets far below necessary levels at Copenhagen

Public Lands – B+

  • Authorized logging in Alaskan road-less areas
  • Continual issuing of oil and gas and coal-mining leases

Oceans – B-

  • Offshore oil drilling off the Alaskan coast
  • Reduced protection for endangered sea turtles near Hawaii

The Obama administration has taken positive environmental steps that are praiseworthy, according to the center’s report card. Notably:

  • Officials issued a finding under the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, setting the stage for stricter regulation/
  • It began addressing ocean acidification under the Clean Water Act.
  • It did away with the Bush administration’s weak rules on national forest management and is developing new regulations.
  • It  proposed removal of 1 million acres of land around the Grand Canyon from uranium mining.

Others might add to that list, remembering that the Obama Administration immediately pushed for and won higher fuel efficiency standards for cars.

But then that was one project, and as the Center for Biological Diversity reminds us, they all count.

Copyright © 2010 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network

Jan 212009

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Amid the fanfare of the inauguration, President Barack Obama went to work on Tuesday, and among his first acts was to stop pending last-minute regulation changes by his predecessor.

The move gave the endangered Rocky Mountain Gray Wolves yet another reprieve in the arduous, years-long battle over whether or not they should continue to receive federal protection.

In recent months, the Bush Administration has pushed through a succession of new rules and regulations, many aimed at environmental projects, trying to beat the clock on its expiring reign. (It’s not an unusual game. Bill Clinton also made many last minute changes – that were later stopped by Bush.)

These Bush Administration tinkerings aimed to keep some of Bush’s and Vice President Dick Cheney’s pet ideas alive by empowering federal agencies to bypass certain scientific review requirements for developments in forests, near power plants and dams; conscripting the Endangered Species Act so it cannot be used to fight global warming and overturning a ban on loaded firearms in national parks. Continue reading »

Jan 082009

By Harriet Blake
Green Right Now

In its waning days, the outgoing Bush administration is promoting oil-shale development in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming by passing regulations that would open public lands to oil-shale exploration, leasing and development. In November, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management put these regulations into effect to develop an oil shale program that the bureau says could add 800 billion barrels of oil from land in the Western United States.

In response, earlier this week, 11 environmental groups notified the administration and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of their intent to file federal lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act. The BLM has 60 days to respond. The environmental groups, which include the Sierra Club, the Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, among others, want the administration to consider the effects that commercial oil-shale development will have on endangered species. Continue reading »