9:30AM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT receive the Presidential Daily Briefing Oval Office
11:45AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors Oval Office
1:45PM THE PRESIDENT presents the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the Air Force Academy football team Rose Garden
3:05PM THE PRESIDENT is interviewed by KCNC Denver, WRAL Raleigh, WFAA Dallas and WTHR Indianapolis Map Room
4:30PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet with Secretary of State Clinton
In the evening the President hosted a Passover seder in the White House.
IG Report confirms Obama lied about Hillary’s emails
WaTimes – One aspect of the Inspector Generals’ report on the FBI handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation has been a bit overshadowed by the media. The fact that President Barack Obama lied to the American people when he claimed he only learned of Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized, non-secure, non-governmental email server while she was Secretary of State.
In March 2015, when the Clinton email scandal was first breaking, CBS White House correspondent Bill Plante asked Obama about his knowledge of the matter:
Plante: Mr. President, when did you first learn that Hillary Clinton used an email system outside the U.S. government for official business while she was secretary of state?
Obama: The same time everybody else learned it through news reports.
Sean Davis, at The Federalist, saw the footnotes showing Obama’s involvement. “FBI analysts and Prosecutor 2 told us that former President Barack Obama was one of the 13 individuals with whom Clinton had direct contact using her clintonemail.com account,” the report says in a footnote on page 89. “Obama, like other high level government officials, used a pseudonym for his username on his official government email account.” more here
20 Comments on IG Report confirms Obama lied about Hillary’s emails
Obama lied? I’m shocked I tell ya!
Not even a smidgen of corruption!
It appears that all the Obama administration – including Comey – used gmail accounts to avoid government FOIA and document retention laws.
The pervasive corruption of Obama and the Clintons has yet to be fully exposed.
Well La dee dah and a great big mega DUH! Every word that ever came out of barry’s pie hole was a lie. Sung to the tune of ME, ME, ME,… It’s all about ME!
So it really wasn’t so much about covering for Clinton as it was covering for the Cook County Messiah. Makes even more sense now.
Barry’s screen name was “Carlos Donger”
Czar, I’d love for Rex to be right.
Has there been any actual truth told about Obamer? Even the old adage of “I lie everytime I open my mouth” doesn’t fully describe the truth of the lies.
To borrow a movie theme will history record Obama and his cronies as the real DECEPTICONS? The transformers need lok no further. (Hope the word “con” can become a true verb for OBamer (in the slammer)).
Somehow or another I think barry’s name should be Cain since he would’ve murdered all the decent people for disagreeing with him if he could get away with it. And with a sneering smile he would’ve said to God, “Am I not my homies keeper.”
If it is ever determined that Obola spoke the truth, then THAT would be news!
Everyone will just shrug and declare that liars lie – that’s what they do.
I have his Trump nickname:
‘Lyin’ Bastard Obama’
Looking at Ex-Dictator Obama and them forcing yourself to listen to this commie punk traitor speak, you come to the immediate realization that this mutant has two assholes – One in the usual place and the other located under his nose. Nothing but shit comes out of either hole.
It’s really difficult for me to keep the Øbamboozler’s nickname down to less than 200 adjectives, so I’ll just leave it at calling him the the Deserter-honoring, ISIS appeasing, Iran-Funding, Jihad-coddling, maladroit, Communist plastic banana republic Manchurian Doorknob, Socialist Marxist Muzlim Mallard and lying insecure Kenyan Kreempuff Traitor!
“If you like your illegal email server, you can keep your illegal email server”
Former Pres. 0bama. Now known as inmate 696969
Here’s an idea: Toss every law the gov’t ever made — every one of them — that deals with the prosecution of ANY gov’t employee and replace them with the Ten Commandments. Black and white, no “nuance”, no “interpretation”, no “intent”. If you’re lying, you’re going to jail. If you’re stealing, you too. Taking kickbacks? Too bad for you. And so on.
@The Rat Fink
Spoken like a True racist, bigoted, black-hating Klansman cúnt, and you ARE a true racist, bigoted, black-hating Klansman cúnt.
Just like Klansman Trump and his typical retarded white supporters. They are fúcked up in the head. Too busy sibling fúcking in your trailer. Explains why you obviously have ZERO anything about the laws of the land and how they work.
Guess we see what happens when Black people enter the White House. the racists and bigots like you come out in full force. Trump supporters are dumb, uneducated, delusional idiots pushing for change, regardless of what disaster may entail You are living proof of that.
Its sub-humans losers like you Klansman Trump supporters that proves whites are the most retarded unintelligent racist turd in the world. And you are the living proof.
Obama has committed no crime! no he’s not a traitor, you fucking retard
you have NO legit sources that state Obama lied because If such evidence existed Jeff Sessions would be prosecuting and you know it. Thus this evidence that your sure exists, that has allowed you to convict him in your mind, is complete bullshit, I’d tell you to Come back to reality and rejoin sanity, but when it comes to trashing the First Black President, you racist cunts will believe ANYTHING that makes him look bad
Anyone with any decency that reads your post can tell you are a liar, a bigoted racist conspiracy booboisies without any creditability. You racist cunts just can’t stand it that a black man could not only be the POTUS but one of the most successful in the history of the nation.
Really? Are you truly so blinded by race hatred that anyone who criticises Chicago Jesus is a bigoted inbred Klansman? You are a fool, and worse, one who thinks they are speaking “truth to power”.
Go away little person, you are nothing but an irritant to other people.
Sorry, was so irritated by the racist I forgot to put my name on the comment.
Year Three Day 89 Obama Administration April 18, 2011 - History
A group known as American Principles in Action is running an ad targeting Hispanic voters in Nevada, trying to weaken their support for President Barack Obama.
"Don’t be fooled by President Obama’s words," the narrator says. "He’s not committed to immigrants. He only wants our vote. With the election on the line, he offers our undocumented youth a temporary solution that cheats them of legal status. Why didn’t he keep his promise to push immigration reform? Instead, Obama has deported more people than any other president in this country's history. With friends like these, who needs enemies?"
The group behind the ad, American Principles in Action is an affiliate of the American Principles Project, a group founded by conservative scholar Robert George of Princeton University. The group’s staff member responsible for Latino issues is Alfonso Aguilar, the former chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship under President George W. Bush.
But while the group is independent of the campaign, the ad’s message helps Romney.
Nevada is a key battleground state that Obama won in 2008 and which he’s eager to win again. Latinos are a significant voting bloc there and in other swing states that Obama won in 2008, such as Colorado and New Mexico. Polls this year have shown that Latinos heavily support Obama over Mitt Romney, in part because Romney took a tough line against illegal immigration during the GOP primaries.
So Obama’s critics would like to shrink his lead among Latino voters, particularly in key states, either by bringing them over to Romney’s side or at least by making them less enthusiastic about Obama.
The ad first dismisses Obama’s proposal in June to temporarily halt deportations of young people, saying it "cheats them of legal status." It then says Obama "has deported more people than any other president in this country's history."
Given the rhetoric that sometimes criticizes Obama for being weak on illegal immigration, we wondered if that was true. We found it was, for the most part.
According to current figures from Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- the federal agency responsible for deportations -- Obama has removed 1.4 million people during his 42 months in office so far. Technically, that's fewer than under George W. Bush, whose cumulative total was 2 million. But Bush’s number covers eight full years, which doesn’t allow an apples-to-apples comparison.
If you instead compare the two presidents’ monthly averages, it works out to 32,886 for Obama and 20,964 for Bush, putting Obama clearly in the lead. Bill Clinton is far behind with 869,676 total and 9,059 per month. All previous occupants of the White House going back to 1892 fell well short of the level of the three most recent presidents.
We wondered whether there might have been a surge of undocumented immigrants that explained the increase, but there wasn’t. During the first two years of Obama’s tenure, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated the illegal immigrant population nationwide at 11.2 million, compared to an average during Bush’s eight-year tenure of 10.6 million. And illegal immigration actually peaked late in Bush’s second term, at which point the recession hit and the numbers declined under Obama. Such patterns do not explain the 57 percent bump in monthly deportations that we found under Obama.
We should also note that if Obama doesn't win a second term, he will almost certainly finish his term trailing George W. Bush in deportations, which would make inaccurate the claim that Obama has "deported more people than any other president in this country's history."
Still, the ad has a point in noting a significant uptick in deportations under Obama. We asked five immigration specialists -- Columbia University historian Mae M. Ngai, University of Albany historian Carl Bon Tempo, Center for Immigration Studies executive director Mark Krikorian, University of California (Davis) law school dean Kevin R. Johnson and University of San Francisco law professor Bill Hing -- whether they thought the ad’s numerical claim was basically accurate, and they all agreed.
Bon Tempo cautioned that some variations in data quality make long-term comparisons somewhat dicey. Still, he added that "it does seem that deportations are on the rise, and markedly so."
Boosting the number of deportations in recent years are a program dating to the Bush years that targets "fugitive" aliens, as well as a program known as Secure Communities, under which federal immigration authorities are kept apprised of people who are fingerprinted at the state and local level. Hing, a critic of the program, says it has "gone way too far, sweeping up many crime victims, witnesses, arrestees whose charges are later dropped, and minor offenders."
The American Civil Liberties Union has gone even further, with legislative counsel Joanne Lin saying that Obama’s enforcement policies overall have left a "wake of devastation in Latino communities across the nation," according to the Los Angeles Times.
Obama has not been shy about touting his immigration-enforcement credentials, though he’s usually careful to say he’s prioritizing resources by focusing on deporting criminals rather than law-abiding people.
For instance, during the speech in which he offered the youth non-deportation proposal, Obama said, "In the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places. … We focused and used discretion about whom to prosecute, focusing on criminals who endanger our communities rather than students who are earning their education. And today, deportation of criminals is up 80 percent. We've improved on that discretion carefully and thoughtfully."
Ngai, the Columbia historian, perceives Obama’s tough enforcement policy as a tactical move.
"My interpretation is that the Obama administration decided to be tough on ‘criminal’ aliens in order to get support for legalization of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record," Ngai said.
Of course, Romney is widely considered to be taking a harder line on illegal immigration than Obama. According to his website’s statement on immigration policy, Romney opposes both "amnesty" and "all ‘magnets’ that entice illegal immigrants to come to our country. As governor, he vetoed in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants and opposed driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants."
Technically, the ad isn’t correct to say that Barack Obama "has deported more people than any other president in this country's history," since George W. Bush cumulatively deported more over his full eight-year term -- and since Bush would remain ahead of Obama if Mitt Romney wins the presidency in November.
Career Education Plan From Obama Administration Unlikely To Bear Fruit For A Year Or More
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan traveled to a community college in the middle of Iowa to announce Thursday what he called a "transformation" of vocational education.
"The Perkins program must be transformed if it is to live up to its potential to prepare every youth and adult to participate in the knowledge-based global marketplace of the 21st century," Duncan told an audience at the Des Moines Area Community College.
The administration's proposal is a blueprint for reauthorizing the Perkins Act, which pays public schools to provide vocational education (known as "career academies"). The new proposal's most drastic changes would increase the quantity of Perkins grants and make them competitive, similar to changes Duncan has made to other parts of the educational spectrum. The administration proposed a new competitive fund of $1 billion to increase the number of career academies by 3,000 -- a jump that could serve 500,000 more students.
But with no prospect of congressional hearings on the proposal any time soon -- indeed, with no such bill currently in either chamber of Congress -- and with the expiration of Perkins a full year away, stakeholders are wondering to what extent these plans are more political than "transformative."
"We're wondering about the timing," said Kimberly Green, director of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, a group that lobbies on behalf of career and technical education (CTE) programs. "Since jobs will be a big part of presidential strategy, they want to be able to call attention to how they're proposing to connect an education program to the needs of the economy."
And the timing might be especially helpful during an election year, when President Barack Obama needs all the opportunities he can get to shore up his image on job creation. CTE programs provide students with trade skills, such as plumbing or electrical work -- and some have argued that such programs have not received enough government support, thus closing down an alternate route to the middle class for students whose interests are less academic.
"It's part of a campaign strategy to emphasize employment," said Jack Jennings, a former longtime Democratic congressional education staffer. "That's Obama's weak spot."
Obama has also been criticized for placing too much emphasis on college completion, touting the goal of making America the global leader in degree attainment. (This goal led to Rick Santorum famously referring to the president as a "snob.")
"It's a good balancing act for the administration, because they've been accused of having too much focus on college," said Jennings.
To that end, administration officials made sure to note Thursday that Obama has already set aside $2 billion in grants that aim to strengthen community college curricula with "learning real-world business needs," and a proposal to spend $8 billion on a "community college to career fund," though such programs could potentially benefit employers more than trainees.
Nonetheless, workforce scholars say some kind of CTE reform is necessary: Post-secondary outcomes have taken center stage in national debates about education reform. That's because, as administration press materials note, 60 percent of jobs added last year went bachelor's degree recipients.
"What drives me crazy every day is that . we have at least 2 million high-skill, high-wage jobs that we can't fill," Duncan said on a call with reporters. "We don't have a jobs crisis. We have a skills crisis."
Obama's revision of the Perkins Act would allow states to single out "high-growth" jobs and target the type of CTE programs that get funded through the program. Instead of giving school districts and post-secondary institutions discrete allocations of money, the program would fund consortia of businesses, districts and schools. Most drastically, the revised Perkins Act would fund programs on a competitive basis within states and develop "common definitions" by which to hold programs accountable.
Green's CTE lobbying group is already pushing against the changes. "The details worry us," she said. "The competitive approach has the potential effect of really disadvantaging rural areas . that have smaller staffs and no full-time grant writers."
The proposed changes encouraged Anthony Carnevale, who directs Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce and contends that the academic bent of American education turns many kids off from school. "We've been losing 30 percent of high school kids every year. By making kids take Algebra II, we force dropout and failure," he says. "Applied learning works best, but our system pushes academic learning, because it's set up for everyone to go to Harvard."
Shortly after Duncan released his talking points, congressional Democrats voiced their support. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a statement that she "supports the Administration's push to build on the successes of CTE programs," but has "concerns with the funding mechanisms being proposed."
Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who chairs the Senate education committee, released a statement saying he wants "to commend Secretary Duncan for bringing attention to the need for more alignment, collaboration, accountability, and innovation."
Still, no congressman has indicated he or she would sponsor a CTE reform bill along the lines of Obama's proposal. (Green and several Democratic hill aides said they were not aware of any planned hearings.) The administration itself hasn't written a bill, perhaps because it is still convening groups of CTE managers in states to determine the common accountability metrics. A representative for Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), who chairs the House education committee, responded to a query about the Obama blueprint by pointing to a job-training initiative developed in Kline's committee that features much streamlining and consolidation of job training programs.
When asked about the CTE plan's political prospects, though, Duncan was optimistic. "I don't know any elected official at any level . who doesn't want to see their employment rates go up," he said, "regardless of politics or ideology."
Year Three Day 89 Obama Administration April 18, 2011 - History
The State of California has set free Sara Jane Olson, the onetime member of the SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army). This "1970s radical turned housewife" was partially responsible for the murder of a woman named Myrna Opsahl, a mother of four who had the misfortune to be in the Crocker National Bank in Carmichael, California (outside Sacramento) when the SLA was robbing it on April 21, 1975. Olson (formerly known as Kathleen Ann Soliah) was also responsible for planting bombs under LAPD vehicles four months later.
She was a fugitive from justice for 23 years until she was identified following the airing of an episode of America's Most Wanted in May 1999. In October 2001, Olson pled guilty to setting the bombs but insisted she was innocent. She said the atmosphere post 9/11 would have prevented her from obtaining a fair trial. If Olson were truly innocent she would not have made such a plea. She pled guilty but could not accept responsibility for her own actions. Olson was sentenced to two consecutive terms of 10 years to life but the sentence was eventually reduced to 14 years.
As for Myrna Opsahl, after initially pleading not guilty, Olson pled guilty to Opsahl's murder and was sentenced to six years to be served concurrently with her 14-year sentence. For all and intents and purposes, Olson never spent a day in jail for Opsahl's murder. Where is justice for Myrna Opsahl?
After all, Sara Jane Olson did not answer for her crimes for nearly a quarter century. She got to travel and raise a family. As of today she gets to serve her parole in her home state of Minnesota despite objections from Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and state law enforcement.
Myrna Opsahl never got to travel much less continue to raise her children. However, I suspect if Opsahl's family had raised more of a fuss perhaps Olson will still be behind bars. However, her widower and one of her sons seem content to let things be. Of course, I'm not in their shoes and hope it's a position in which I am never put. But if Myrna Opsahl were still alive she would have been 76 years old. There is no statute of limitations on murder for a reason. Myrna Opsahl was cheated out of the best years of her life while Sara Jane Olson gets to enjoy hers.
Fact Sheet | Timeline of Progress Made in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan
On June 25th, 2013, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan (CAP) during a speech at Georgetown University. This comprehensive plan is the first of its kind and was developed by the Administration to strategically achieve three overarching goals: cut domestic carbon pollution, prepare the United States for climate change impacts, and lead international efforts to address global climate change.
The first goal, cutting U.S. carbon pollution, aligns with President Obama&rsquos commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. Strategies to meet this goal include reducing GHG emissions from the power sector and promoting energy efficiency and clean energy projects around the country. The Administration&rsquos plan to cut emissions from light-duty vehicles through 2025, put into place pre-CAP during Obama&rsquos first term, is a major component to reaching the 2025 emissions target. The second goal, preparing for climate change, is meant to provide federal agencies and U.S. communities with the resources they need to improve their resiliency against sea level rise, extreme weather events, drought, and the other increasingly harmful impacts of climate change. The third goal, leading international efforts to address global climate change, is meant to establish the United States as a world leader in climate action. The United States is calling for international bilateral and multilateral agreements to speed up the global transition away from fossil fuels and to increase international investment in clean energy technologies. This includes positioning the United States to be a key player in international climate negotiations, particularly in the approaching United Nations (UN) Climate Conference in Paris.
In the two years since the release of the Climate Action Plan, the Obama administration has been busy laying the groundwork to achieve its ambitious goals. This has included executive actions, proposed and finalized agency regulations, investment strategies, budget requests, and announced international bilateral agreements. These major developments, largely undertaken as the planet experienced its hottest year on record (2014), put the United States on a path to reduce its climate contributions and vulnerability. But much more action will be needed to avoid future climate change impacts. This fact sheet will highlight some of the key CAP-related actions taken by the Administration so far, though many more are expected in the near future.
Timeline of Progress
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases the final rule for the Clean Power Plan, which seeks to cut carbon emissions from existing power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
July 20, 2015
The White House honors 12 faith leaders for their work on climate action. Evangelical, Franciscan, Lutheran, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Church of God and Baptist faiths are represented.
July 9, 2015
The White House releases a progress report, Highlighting Federal Actions Addressing the Recommendations of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, and announces a series of new climate resilience focused actions, including over $25 million in private and public investments.
July 2, 2015
The EPA finalizes its rule to reduce hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) emissions, a potent manmade greenhouse gas. The rule is projected to reduce HFC emissions by 54 to 64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025.
June 30, 2015
The White House announces a new bilateral climate agreement with Brazil, in which each country commits to increase renewable energy production to 20 percent of its energy portfolio by 2020.
June 23, 2015
The White House hosts the first-ever Summit on Climate Change and Health. President Obama announces numerous actions to protect communities from the health impacts of climate change.
June 19, 2015
The EPA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) jointly propose a new round of emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles through model year 2025, which will reduce GHG emissions by one billion metric tons.
June 8, 2015
The White House launches a public-private partnership, Climate Services for Resilient Development, to assist developing nations in building resilience against the impacts of climate change. An initial $34 million is provided to developing nations for this purpose.
May 20, 2015
The White House releases a report detailing the national security implications of climate change.
April 23, 2015
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announces a new initiative, Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture & Forestry, to help farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners respond to climate change. The USDA reports that this initiative will reduce GHG emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by more than 120 million metric tons per year by 2025.
April 21, 2015
President Obama unveils two executive actions to support energy infrastructure resilience: USDA announces $72 million to support rural electric infrastructure projects with major investments to drive solar energy and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces the Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience, which will improve U.S. energy infrastructure resilience against extreme weather and climate change impacts.
April 21, 2015
DOE releases the first installment of its first ever Quadrennial Energy Review.
April 14, 2015
The EPA releases the 20th Annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory showing a nine percent decrease in GHG emissions in 2013 over 2005 levels.
April 7, 2015
The White House announces a set of actions to protect communities from climate-related health impacts, including the release of a Climate and Health Assessment from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the release of a study from the Centers for Disease Control identifying the greatest climate change-related health impacts and possible mitigation strategies, and the first ever White House Climate and Health Summit (which took place on June 23, 2015).
March 31, 2015
The United States submits its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in preparation for the 21st annual Conference of the Parties. In its INDC, the United States reaffirms its goal of reducing GHG emissions 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
March 19, 2015
President Obama signs an executive order directing federal agencies to reduce their GHG emissions by a minimum of 40 percent by 2025 from 2008 levels, and to increase electricity generation from renewable energy to 30 percent of total generation.
Feb. 17, 2015
The Department of Interior (DOI) announces it will make $8 million available to fund projects to promote tribal climate change adaptation and planning projects.
Feb. 10, 2015
The White House announces the Clean Energy Innovation Initiative to catalyze $2 billion in private sector investment for climate change solutions.
The White House releases its fiscal year 2016 budget request with a strong emphasis on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Notable requests include allocating $7.4 billion to clean energy technology programs, repealing $4 billion in tax subsidies to fossil fuel producers, and allocating $2.7 billion for the U.S. Global Change Research Program for climate change programs.
Jan. 30, 2015
President Obama signs an executive order establishing the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard to improve community resilience against the impacts of increased future flooding.
Jan. 25, 2015
The United States and India announce a new climate agreement which includes provisions to expand their successful Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research (PACE-R). The Partnership will benefit from increased research funding in solar energy, building efficiency, advanced biofuels, and smart grid and storage technology.
Jan. 14, 2015
The White House announces a plan to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40&ndash45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. A proposed rule is expected to be released later in 2015.
Dec. 24, 2014
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) releases a proposal to have all federal agencies consider the effects of GHG emissions and climate change in their evaluation of all proposed federal actions.
Nov. 21, 2014
The United States helps negotiate an agreement of the parties to the Montreal Protocol to replenish the Multilateral Fund with $507.5 million to help phase out hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
Nov. 17, 2014
The President&rsquos State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience releases its recommendations.
Nov. 15, 2014
The United States and Japan announce pledges of $3 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively, to the Green Climate Fund to support global GHG reductions and climate resiliency.
Nov. 11, 2014
The United States and China announce a bilateral climate deal in which the United States commits to reducing its carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and China undertakes to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 or earlier.
The White House announces its Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda, which identifies a series of government actions that can enhance the climate resiliency of domestic natural resources and promote carbon sequestration.
The EPA announces proposed rulemaking to prohibit certain hydrofluorocarbons due to their potency as greenhouse gases.
The USDA, EPA and DOE release their Biogas Opportunities Roadmap, a voluntary strategy for the agricultural sector to reduce methane emissions.
July 9, 2014
The EPA announces its proposed rulemaking to approve new climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs.
June 25, 2014
The White House releases the one-year progress report on the Climate Action Plan.
June 18, 2014
The EPA publishes its proposed rule for the Clean Power Plan.
June 10, 2014
The Department of the Navy announces plans to purchase 37 million gallons of drop-in biofuels as part of its next fuel purchase.
The White House announces that $2 billion will be spent on energy efficiency upgrades to federal buildings over the next three years through energy savings performance contracts. This is in addition to the $2 billion investment announced in 2011.
DOE confirms the building industry&rsquos latest commercial building energy codes should cut energy waste by up to 30 percent more than current building energy codes.
The Obama administration releases the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, the most comprehensive source of scientific information on domestic climate change impacts.
March 19, 2014
The White House releases its Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, outlining approaches to reduce this potent GHG across multiple sectors while also improving emission measurements.
March 19, 2014
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launch the Climate Data Initiative, which brings together public and private sector data to help U.S. communities develop resiliency plans and resources.
March 4, 2014
The White House releases its FY15 budget request, which includes the creation of a $1 billion Climate Fund to help local communities adapt to and recover from extreme weather, a 26 percent increase to the DOT to help fund more energy-efficient transportation, a call for the elimination of $4 billion in fossil fuel subsidies, and the creation of a $954 million emergency disaster fund aimed at suppressing wildfires.
Feb. 18, 2014
President Obama directs the EPA and DOT to develop and finalize new fuel efficiency and GHG standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016.
USDA announces the creation of the Regional Agricultural Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change. The seven locations around the country will be dedicated to studying the effects of climate change on agricultural production.
The DOT announces $55 million for public transit agencies to acquire zero-emission buses and the space to support them, via the new Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program.
President Obama signs a Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government to conduct the first-ever Quadrennial Energy Review.
President Obama signs a Presidential Memorandum on Federal Leadership on Energy Management, directing the federal government to purchase at least 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
The Administration expands the Better Buildings Challenge, a $2 billion program to finance energy efficiency upgrades in commercial buildings, to multifamily housing units as well. Additionally, the Administration announces the creation of the Better Buildings Accelerator which will support state and local government-led efforts to cut energy waste and to promote greater efficiency.
Nov. 15, 2013
The White House announces a cross-agency National Drought Resilience Partnership to help communities prepare for future droughts and reduce the impact of these events.
President Obama signs an executive order directing federal agencies to support community climate resiliency efforts. This includes the creation of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, with 26 officials from 23 states and territories.
Aug. 19, 2013
The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force releases its rebuilding strategy to help provide a model for communities that face risks associated with climate change and extreme weather events.
June 25, 2013
President Obama announces his Climate Action Plan.
Climate Action Plan Spotlights
This section provides details on a major action taken to further each of the three overarching goals of the CAP.
Goal 1&mdashCut Carbon Pollution in the United States: The Clean Power Plan
Power generation produces nearly 40 percent of all GHG emissions in the United States. Reducing power sector emissions is, therefore, a key strategy outlined in the CAP. On June 2, 2014, the EPA announced a proposed rule, the Clean Power Plan (CPP), to reduce power sector carbon emissions. Authorized under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, the CPP mandates specific power sector emission reductions in each state, while giving states autonomy over how to achieve those reductions. The Administration released the final rule on August 3, 2015, calling for a 32 percent cut from 2005 levels by 2030, a small increase over the target in the proposed rule.
The Clean Power Plan provides each state with individualized emission reduction targets, specific to its needs and circumstances. Each state&rsquos target was derived by assessing its capacity to make use of the three &ldquobuildings blocks&rdquo EPA has identified as pathways to emission reductions: making fossil fuel power plants more efficient, using more low-emitting power sources, and using more zero-emitting power sources. States can decide which strategies to incorporate into their implementation plans, which must be submitted to the EPA by September 2018.
The Clean Power Plan is controversial. Opponents claim it will reduce grid reliability, raise electricity costs, and negatively impact low income and elderly citizens. Supporters argue that it will greatly reduce domestic carbon emissions, improve public health conditions, and benefit the economy by expanding the growing industries of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Goal 2&mdashPrepare the U.S. for Climate Change Impacts: The President's State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience
Adaptation strategies in the Climate Action Plan emphasize the importance of enabling and empowering local leaders to improve the climate resilience of their communities. To further this goal, President Obama signed an executive order on November 1, 2013, establishing the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The Task Force was directed to provide recommendations on how the federal government could most effectively assist communities in developing climate resilience.
The Task Force, which consisted of 26 U.S. governors, mayors, county officials and tribal leaders, spent a year researching and consulting with a diverse group of stakeholders. Their work culminated on November 17, 2014, with the release of a 45-page document outlining 35 key recommendations. Overall, the Task Force&rsquos recommendations emphasized the need for federal agencies to consider climate-related risks in all their decision-making processes, to maximize opportunities for actions that both reduce emissions and increase resilience, to increase coordination across federal agencies, to provide actionable data on climate impacts so as to inform local decision making, and to consult and cooperate with indigenous communities on all resilience efforts.
The Obama administration has been quick to take action on the Task Force's recommendations, even before they were finalized. On July 16, 2014, President Obama announced a $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition, $10 million in funding for tribal communities to improve climate resilience, and $236.3 million in grants to improve rural electric infrastructure. On November 17, 2014, the day the final recommendations were published, the White House released the Climate Resilience Toolkit, a comprehensive guide to assist local communities in improving climate resilience. On July 9, 2015, the Administration released a report highlighting the progress made on the Task Force&rsquos recommendations and announced new climate resilience efforts. The new efforts included additional funding for tribal communities and the National Disaster Resilience Competition, $10 million for climate resilience in low-income communities, and a new AmeriCorps program dedicated to assisting communities improve their capacity to address climate change.
Goal 3&mdashLead International Efforts to Address Global Climate Change: Bilateral Climate Agreements.
One point that is continually emphasized in the U.S. climate debate is that domestic mitigation efforts will be ineffective if the emissions of developing countries continue to rise unabated. For that reason, the Climate Action Plan stressed the importance of international bilateral agreements on climate. In the two years since the Climate Action Plan was announced, President Obama has reached historic agreements with China, India, and Brazil, three of the world&rsquos top ten greenhouse gas emitting nations.
On November 11, 2014, the United States and China announced a deal in which the United States agreed to reduce its emissions 26-28 percent by 2025, and China, for the first time ever, agreed to cap its emissions by 2030. Additionally, each country committed to further cooperate on clean energy research and to promote alternatives to hydrofluorocarbons. On January 25, 2015, President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a new five-year memorandum of understanding on energy security, clean energy and climate change. Among other initiatives, it renewed their jointly funded $125 million Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research. On June 30, 2015, the United States and Brazil reached a deal to expand each country&rsquos renewable energy generation to 20 percent of their energy portfolio by 2030. Furthermore, Brazil agreed to restore 12 million hectares of rainforest by 2030.
These agreements are part of President Obama&rsquos goal to achieve a binding international climate treaty at the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st annual Conference of the Parties (COP21) this December in Paris. Additionally, the United States has submitted an aggressive Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UNFCCC, reaffirming its goal of reducing domestic carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
The strategies and goals outlined in the Climate Action Plan demonstrate an understanding of both the existing climate change impacts in the United States, and of the actions necessary to prevent increased future impacts. By prescribing direct work with community and local leaders on climate resilience, the CAP exhibits an understanding of who is most greatly impacted by climate change and a commitment to protect citizens from harm. By outlining efforts for aggressive domestic mitigation efforts, while also committing to help developing nations reduce their emissions, the CAP recognizes that effective climate action must take place at both the local and global scales.
After two years of implementation, and despite a continued battle with Congress, the Administration has made visible progress towards achieving its climate goals. A number of the Climate Action Plan&rsquos short term targets have already been met, such as issuing regulations to limit power sector carbon emissions, developing a Climate Resiliency Toolkit, and working to mitigate methane and hydrofluorocarbon emissions. Additionally, steps have been taken towards achieving the longer term and more aggressive goals outlined in the CAP, such as achieving an international climate treaty. Moreover, the steady pace of new executive actions, regulations, and international partnerships since the CAP's announcement indicates that addressing climate change will likely remain a top priority for the remainder of President Obama&rsquos second term. In the run-up to the release of the Clean Power Plan's final rule, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough underlined this by stating that &ldquothere&rsquos not a more important and pressing issue on the President&rsquos agenda than climate.&rdquo
Obama Has Declared Record-Breaking 89 Disasters So Far in 2011
From Hurricane Irene , which soaked the entire East Coast in August, to the Midwest tornadoes , which wrought havoc from Wisconsin to Texas, 2011 has seen more billion-dollar natural disasters than any year on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.
And as America’s hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and wildfires set records this year, so too has President Obama in his response to them.
During the first 10 months of this year President Obama declared 89 major disasters, more than the record 81 declarations that he made in all of 2010.
And Obama has declared more disasters — 229 — in the first three years of his presidency than almost any other president signed in their full four-year terms. Only President George W. Bush declared more, having signed 238 disaster declarations in his second term, from 2005 to 2009.
But while the sheer number of bad weather events played a big role in the uptick in presidential disaster declarations, Obama’s record-setting year may have something to do with politics as well.
“There’s no question about it that the increase in the number of disaster declarations is outstripping what we would expect to see, given what we observe in terms of weather,” said Robert Hartwig, the president and economist at the Insurance Information Institute. “There’s a lot of political pressure on the president and Congress to show they are responsive to these sorts of disasters that occur.”
While the president aimed to authorize swift and sweeping aid to disaster victims, Congress was entrenched in partisan battles over how to foot the bill . When Republicans demanded that additional appropriations for a cash-strapped FEMA be offset by spending cuts, the government was almost shut down over disaster relief funding.
Such budget showdowns have become commonplace in Congress, but a similarly slow response to natural disasters by the president has been met with far more pointed and politically damaging criticism. Former President Bush learned that the hard way after what was seen as a botched initial response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Ever since that time we’ve seen FEMA try to act more responsively and we’ve seen presidents more engaged in the issues going on with respect to disasters,” Hartwig said.
Mark Merritt, who served as deputy chief of staff at FEMA during the Clinton Administration, said Obama’s record-breaking number of declarations has less to do with politics and more to do with demographics.
People are moving to high-risk areas like beaches and flood plains, more bad weather events are occurring and the country’s infrastructure is “crumbling,” he said.
“It’s not being used any more as a political tool today than it has over the past 18 years,” said Merritt, who is now the president of the crisis management consulting firm Witt Associates. “Everybody can say there’s a little bit of politics involved, and I won’t deny that, but I don’t think it’s a political tool that politicians use to win reelections.”
Politics aside, Obama’s higher-than-ever number of disaster declarations may also have a lot to do with the broad scale of this year’s disasters, which led to more declarations of catastrophes because each state affected by the disaster gets its own declaration.
For example, Hurricane Andrew, which hit Florida in 1992, cost upwards of $40 billion in damage, but resulted in only one disaster declaration because the damage was almost entirely confined to one state.
Hurricane Irene, on the other hand, pummeled much of the East Coast this summer, causing the president to make 9 disaster declarations, one for each state affected. Although there were 8 more declarations for Irene than for Andrew, the Irene caused about $7 billion in damage, a fraction of the damage caused by Andrew (up to $42 billion in today’s dollars).
Each presidential disaster declaration makes the federal government — specifically FEMA — responsible for at least 75 percent of the recovery costs, relieving cash-strapped state and local governments of the billions in damages caused by this year’s hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.
Richard Salkowe, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of South Florida who studies federal disaster declarations and denials, argued that the trend toward more declarations stems from local governments becoming more aware of the availability of federal funds.
“The local governments and state governments have become more aware of the process and more efficient in using it,” Salkowe said. “I’d say yeah, there are more states that have overwhelming needs, and that may have lead to the Obama administration declaring more disaster areas.”
Obama to deport illegals by 'priority'
Bowing to pressure from immigrant rights activists, the Obama administration said Thursday that it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, such as attending school, having family in the military or having primary responsible for other family members’ care.
The move marks a major step for President Obama, who for months has said he does not have broad categorical authority to halt deportations and said he must follow the laws as Congress has written them.
But in letters to Congress on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she does have discretion to focus on “priorities” and that her department and the Justice Department will review all ongoing cases to see who meets the new criteria.
“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said. “Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high-priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.”
The move won immediate praise from Hispanic activists and Democrats who had strenuously argued with the administration that it did have authority to take these actions, and said as long as Congress is deadlocked on the issue, it was up to Mr. Obama to act.
“Today’s announcement shows that this president is willing to put muscle behind his words and to use his power to intervene when the lives of good people are being ruined by bad laws,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, who has taken a leadership role on the issue since the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2009.
The new rules apply to those who have been apprehended and are in deportation proceedings, but have not been officially ordered out of the country by a judge.
Ms. Napolitano said a working group will try to come up with “guidance on how to provide for appropriate discretionary consideration” for “compelling cases” in instances where someone already has been ordered deported.
Administration officials made the announcement just before Mr. Obama left for a long vacation out of Washington, and as members of Congress are back in their home districts.
The top House Republican on the Judiciary Committee said the move is part of a White House plan “to grant backdoor amnesty to illegal immigrants.”
“The Obama administration should enforce immigration laws, not look for ways to ignore them,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican. “The Obama administration should not pick and choose which laws to enforce. Administration officials should remember the oath of office they took to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land.”
Immigration legislation has been stalled in Congress for years as the two parties have sparred over what to include.
Republicans generally favor stricter enforcement and a temporary program that would allow workers in the country for some time, but eventually return to their home countries. Democrats want the legislation to include legalization of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants now in the country, and want the future guest-worker program to also include a path to citizenship so those workers can stay permanently.
Since 2007, when the issue stalled in the Senate, more than 1 million illegal immigrants have been deported.
Democrats said those deportations are breaking up families and that it’s an unfair punishment for a broken system.
Hispanic voters are a key voter bloc as Mr. Obama seeks re-election next year, but many of them felt he broke his promise to them to work on legislation once he took office. Thursday’s move already was paying dividends as Hispanic advocacy groups praised the steps.
“After more than two years of struggle, demonstrations, direct actions and other activities, the administration has signaled that they are capable of delivering direct relief for immigrant families,” said Casa de Maryland, a pro-immigrant group. “We eagerly await confirmation from community members that their families can now expect to remain together.”
Two years ago, some staffers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had prepared a draft memo arguing that the administration retained broad powers that could serve “as a non-legislative version of ‘amnesty.’ “
But agency leaders and others in the administration had argued that the memo was inaccurate.
It was unclear Thursday how many people might be affected by the new rules. Pressure groups said up to 300,000 people could be eligible. In fiscal year 2010 alone, the government deported nearly 200,000 illegal immigrants who it said did not have criminal records.
Given the case-by-case basis of Thursday’s announcement, though, the groups said the actual number of people allowed to stay could be far lower.
In June, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that handles interior immigration law enforcement, issued guidance expanding authority to decline to prosecute illegal immigrants. The goal, ICE leaders said, was to focus on catching illegal immigrants who have committed other crimes or are part of gangs.
The chief beneficiaries of the guidance are likely to be immigrant students who would have been eligible for legal status under the Dream Act, which stalled in Congress last year.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who asked Homeland Security this year to exempt illegal-immigrant students from deportation, said the move will free up immigration courts to handle cases involving serious criminals.
Obama Wins The Gold For Worst Economic Recovery Ever
If mismanaging an economic recovery were an Olympic event, President Obama would be standing on the middle platform right now, accepting the gold medal.
Deep recessions are supposed to be followed by strong recoveries, but, under Obama, the worst recession since the 1930s has been followed by the slowest economic recovery in the history of the republic. In a very real sense, there has been no recovery at all—things are still getting worse.
To win the gold for economic mismanagement, Obama had to beat out some very tough competitors, including the previous Olympic record holder, George W. Bush. Let’s look at how Obama pulled it off.
For those not familiar with the sport, the Olympic “Worst First Three Years of Economic Recovery” event is a pentathlon—it’s composed of five individual trials.
The trials making up this pentathlon are as follows: 1) total employment growth 2) unemployment rate reduction 3) per capita GDP growth 4) change in the Real Dow and 5) change in real produced assets.
Because the goal is economic mismanagement, in the total employment growth event, the lowest number wins.
Obama was victorious in this trial by producing an increase in jobs during the first 36 months of his economic recovery of only 1.72%. This handily beat out Bush 43, who turned in a jobs gain of 2.93% during his recovery, and the team of Bush 41 and Bill Clinton, who delivered 3.64% more jobs during theirs. And, Obama absolutely creamed Ronald Reagan, who produced an increase in total jobs of 8.97% during the first three years of the economic recovery that he oversaw.
Obama struggled in the “reducing the unemployment rate” event. It was easy for Obama to do worse than Reagan, who had reduced the “headline” (U-3) unemployment rate by a massive 3.8 percentage points during the first three years of his recovery. However, in terms of turning in a bad unemployment performance, both the Bush 41 – Clinton team and Bush 43 had started with an unfair advantage.
Obama’s recovery came out of the blocks with an unemployment rate of 9.5%, which was far higher than where either the Bush 41 – Clinton team started (6.8%) or where Bush 43 began (5.5%). Accordingly, it was much harder for Obama to do worse than those two, because he would have to produce a smaller reduction in the unemployment rate than they did.
When the scores were first totaled, Obama (at 1.3 percentage points of reduction in the unemployment rate) was far behind both the Bush 41 – Clinton team (at 0.3 percentage points), and Bush 43 (at 0.1 percentage points).
However, Obama appealed to the judges, pointing out that, when measured by the more comprehensive “SGS Alternate Unemployment Rate” published by Shadow Government Statistics, he had actually managed to increase unemployment by 2.0 percentage points during his economic recovery. Meanwhile, the other three competitors had reduced their jobless rates, no matter how you measured them. The judges agreed, and they awarded first place in this event to Obama.
The officials then studied the replay tapes, and gave Obama extra credit for managing to push the U.S. 2.5 million jobs farther away from full employment during his economic recovery. The other three contestants could not match that.
Next up was the “real per capita GDP growth” event. Obama won this one decisively.
The total increase in real GDP per capita during the first three years of Obama’s recovery was only 4.34%. This was worse than Bush 43 (5.98%) and the Bush 41 – Clinton team (5.61%). Once again, Ronald Reagan brought up the rear in this important area of economic mismanagement. He produced a stunning 15.36% gain in real per capita GDP during the first three years of his economic recovery.
The last two trials in the Olympic “Worst First Three Years of Economic Recovery” pentathlon relate to building a prosperous future for the U.S. economy.
The Real Dow is the Dow Jones Industrial Average divided by the price of gold. It is a proxy for the driving force to invest in economic growth, rather than to park capital in “safe” investments like gold and government bonds.
In the Real Dow event, Obama had to settle for second place. Bush 43 beat him soundly by managing to depress the Real Dow by a massive 35.6% during the first three years of the economic recovery that he oversaw. However, in terms of economic destruction, Obama turned in a creditable performance, pushing the Real Dow down by 11.6% during his first three years of economic recovery.
In this event, the Bush 41 – Clinton team did not seem to be clear on the concept. The Real Dow rose by 13.5% during their watch. And, once again, Ronald Reagan came in dead last, producing a massive 89.9% increase in the Real Dow during the first three years of his powerful economic recovery.
Obama finished strong by blowing away the competition in the “change in real produced assets” trial. Produced assets comprise the physical infrastructure of our economy, and economic progress depends upon building up our stock of produced assets.
During the first full year of Obama’s economic recovery (2010), real produced assets actually fell by 1.41%. This is the biggest drop during the 60 years for which data is available. It is also the only decline ever observed during an economic recovery.
Ronald Reagan finished second in this trial with a 0.16% increase in fixed assets during 1983. The Bush 41 – Clinton team and Bush 43 tied in this event. They both produced a 3.42% gain in real produced assets, in 1992 and 2002, respectively.
We should all be proud that Barack Obama has won the Olympic gold medal in the “Worst First Three Years of Economic Recovery” event, and reward him accordingly in November.
The Obama administration intervened in court to ensure that BP’s Gulf drilling operations would go forward, even in the absence of serious environmental and safety studies, a World Socialist Web Site analysis of 2009 legal documents reveals.
The administration’s efforts applied not only to deep sea drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico, but specifically to the site that would be used by BP’s Deepwater Horizon drill rig, which on April 20 exploded, killing 11 workers and generating an oil slick that is inflicting an unprecedented environmental and economic disaster on the Gulf Coast.
A May 11, 2009 legal brief written on behalf of Obama’s secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, requested that the Washington, DC federal court of appeals overturn or amend an earlier decision blocking new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico’s outer continental shelf. The petition referred specifically in several instances to site “206”—the same area where the Deepwater Horizon would explode in a blowout less than one year later.
In July of last year, the court of appeals partially approved Salazar’s petition, under the condition that the administration would produce an environmental impact study for Gulf of Mexico drilling operations. The study has not yet been completed.
The court of appeals had earlier ruled that expanded deep sea drilling related to the Bush administration’s “Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, 2007-2012” violated the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) because it failed to adequately analyze the “relative environmental sensitivity” of impacted areas.
That decision came on April 17, 2009, only 11 days after the Obama administration granted BP a “categorical exemption” from producing a legally required environmental impact study and approving its exploration plan for site 206, the future location of Deepwater Horizon.
In appealing this ruling, the Department of the Interior argued that the Center for Biological Diversity, which had brought the suit, had “‘not identified any injury arising from the mere existence of these [drilling] leases, nor from further exploration and development activity on the Gulf of Mexico leases.”
Referring to “leases 204-207,” the Obama administration argued that exploration had already begun, and that “attempting to restore the status quo ante would therefore be extraordinarily difficult.” It went on to note the substantial amounts of money that oil firms had already wagered on the exploitation of the deposits.
“Salazar approved BP’s exploration plan without any environmental analysis on April 6, 2009, knowing that the lease could get struck down by an active lawsuit,” said Kieran Suckling of the Center for Biological Diversity. “When it was struck down 11 days later, he went back to court to get the BP exploration drilling (and other areas) removed from the vacature. His success in this legal maneuver allowed BP’s exploration drilling to take place, resulting in the April 20, 2010 catastrophic disaster.”
The Department of the Interior did not return calls for comment on the story. The lawyer for the Department of Justice who litigated the case, Sambhav Sankar, said he could not discuss the matter. A call to his superior in the Justice Department, Andrew Ames, was not returned at the time of writing.
The Obama administration’s legal intervention to continue deep sea Gulf drilling shows that it not merely shares with the Bush administration indirect responsibility for the disaster through its failure to adequately regulate the industry. It actively intervened to release BP from legally required environmental assessments for the very drill site that would produce the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Even since the explosion on the rig, the Obama administration has continued to grant “categorical exemptions” for deep sea oil drilling—27 in all, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. On March 31, Obama issued his own “Five-Year Program” for offshore and deep sea drilling, The plan surpasses even that of the Bush administration, calling for opening up areas for drilling stretching from Delaware to Florida on the Atlantic Coast as well as along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The media has largely ignored the growing evidence that implicates the Obama administration in the disaster. Coverage of the oil spill, already one of the worst ecological catastrophes in history, has been eclipsed for more than a week by media focus on the failed Times Square bombing attempt.
Where the media has addressed the Obama administration’s role in the disaster, it has attempted to fashion a “new narrative” for the explosion, in which the administration’s early indifference is replaced by supposedly quick action.
Over the weekend, an Associated Press news analysis attempted, with limited success, to portray an energetic response to the crisis. The story simply overlooked all the evidence to the contrary, including the multiple press briefings given by press secretary Robert Gibbs beginning the day after the explosion. Quotes from Gibbs, in which he at first expressed only dim awareness of the disaster and later used it as a chance to play up Obama’s call for increased drilling, are freely available on the White House web site. (See “Obama seeks to contain anger over BP oil spill”)
Obama’s allies in the liberal and “left” media, meanwhile, have sought to pin blame for the spill entirely on the Bush administration, disregarding the fact that Obama has carried on the same policies unchanged.
This is the thrust of a Monday column in the New York Times by liberal columnist Paul Krugman, “Sex & Lies & the Spill,” which attributes the disaster to “the collapse in government competence and effectiveness that took place during the Bush years.” Krugman notes that under Bush federal regulators “minimized the environmental risks of drilling,” “failed to require a backup shutdown system that is standard in much of the rest of the world,” “exempted many offshore drillers from the requirement that they file plans to deal with major oil spills,” and “specifically allowed BP to drill Deepwater Horizon without a detailed environmental analysis.”
While the Bush administration is certainly culpable for the disaster, all of the regulatory inaction cited by Krugman in fact continued under Obama. This includes, as Krugman is forced to acknowledge, the exemption given for the Deepwater Horizon site. But Krugman exculpates Obama by lamely noting that “the administration hadn’t yet had time to put its stamp on” the Minerals Management Service (MMS).
Krugman concludes by arguing that the spill shows the need for a new “attitude toward government,” citing as good examples of this attitude a recent speech by Obama and “the Clinton years.” Similarly, the Nation magazine declares the spill “an opportunity” that could be used “to put all politicians, including President Obama, on the spot and to demand that we move in a fundamentally new direction.”
If the spill shows anything, it is that there is no means of challenging the stranglehold of the corporate oligarchy through supporting the Democratic Party. Since the Carter administration, Democratic presidents have advanced deregulation every bit as much as their Republican counterparts. Indeed, in explaining their lack of regulatory enforcement on oil rigs, MMS officials have cited a law passed during the Clinton years that required all federal agencies to adopt industry standards.
BP employees handed over $71,000 to Barack Obama in the 2008 elections—more than to any other candidate—and the corporation has spent tens of millions in lobbying over the past three years, in the process purchasing the support of such powerful politicians as former Democratic Party lobbyists John and Tony Podesta, former Democratic Senator Tom Daschle, former Republican Senator Alan Simpson, former Bush Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman, and Leon Panetta, until he was installed as Obama’s CIA director.
A Monday report from the Los Angeles Times points out that two members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which will investigate the explosion and spill, received the third and fourth most campaign funding from BP in 2008: Republican Senator John McCain ($37,700) and Democrat Marry Landrieu of Louisiana ($16,000). BP gave about 40 percent of all campaign contributions to Democrats in the last election cycle, and 60 percent to Republicans.
Behind the political decisions that created the conditions for the Deepwater Horizon disaster are enormous financial interests. BP, the world’s fourth largest corporation, was part of a large-scale oil industry push out into the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Until the last decade, oil industry workers referred to the Gulf as “the dead sea,” owing to the stagnation in its output. But the sharp increase in oil prices in recent years whetted the appetite of the industry for fields once considered unprofitable—including those one mile beneath the sea.
When the lease sale opened for site 206 in a New Orleans auction conducted by the MMS, “bidders went on the mother of all shopping sprees,” industry journal Upstream Review wrote in March of 2008, “doling out a record $3.67 billion in . bids on oil and gas exploration tracts.” The bidding, so high that it “left jaws hanging in The Big Easy,” was driven by “insatiable appetites for the emerging Lower Tertiary oil play in deeper waters of the Gulf and ‘ultra-deep’ natural gas plays beneath shallower waters of the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf.”
“It’s the price of oil and gas right now that’s providing a lot of money and a lot of interest in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Lars Herbst, regional director for the MMS, who continues to hold the same position under Obama.