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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 27, 2010
CONTACT: Josh Dorner, 202.675.2384 (w), 202.679.7570 (m)

State of the Union:
President Obama Caps Off Year of Achievements with
Renewed Call for Congressional Action on Energy, Climate

Washington, D.C.--During his first State of the Union address to the Congress, President Obama tonight renewed his call for Congressional action to build the clean energy economy.

[HOLD FOR OBAMA SOTU QUOTE]

The Sierra Club offered the following comments in response to the president's remarks.

Statement of Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director

"Over the past year President Obama has made the state of our union much stronger, even in face of a raft of inherited problems and other unforeseen calamities.  The president is working very hard to move our country beyond the many challenges now before us--but he can't do it alone.  While his administration has done more on clean energy and climate change than any other in history, much hangs in the balance until Congress acts.  We join the president in making a renewed and urgent call for Congress to finalize comprehensive energy reform legislation this year. 

"All eyes remain tightly focused on the United States Senate.  With millions of Americans still out of work, it's time for the Senate to get serious about passing comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation.  In addition to slashing our dangerous dependence on oil and creating millions of new jobs, clean energy legislation will revitalize American industry, create a new a middle class, and put our economy back on the path to long-term, sustained prosperity. 

"In the year ahead, Congress faces a stark choice: build a clean energy economy that puts America back to work and makes us more secure, or bail out Big Oil and other polluters and maintain a dirty energy status quo that we can quite literally no longer afford.

"Just this week, Brazil, India, China, South Africa and other countries reconfirmed the commitments they made last month in Copenhagen.  These commitments were made as a direct result of President Obama's personal leadership and Congress now needs to do its part to show that America is ready to lead.  Unless Congress acts soon, we risk falling further behind in the ongoing global race to build the clean energy industries that will fuel the world's economies in the 21st century. 

"We thank the president for his personal leadership on clean energy and climate change.  We will redouble our own efforts in the year ahead to help build a prosperous and more secure America fueled by homegrown clean energy."

Major Energy & Environment Accomplishments of President Obama's First Year

  • American Recovery & Reinvestment Act's approximately $90 billion in green spending to get our economy back on track and create millions of new clean energy jobs.
  • The President's FY 2009 Budget plan that made clean energy and closing the carbon loophole a top priority, while also fully funding energy and environmental programs across the federal government.
  • Declaring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases a threat to public health and welfare and finally beginning the process of regulating the carbon pollution that causes global warming
  • Appointing an energy and environment team composed of the best and brightest minds available, including Carol Browner (White House), Nancy Sutley (CEQ), Lisa Jackson (EPA), Steven Chu (Energy), Ken Salazar (Interior), Hilda Solis (Labor), Tom Vilsack (Agriculture) and many other overwhelmingly qualified candidates.
  • Granting the California clean cars waiver and outlining plans for a strong, economically and environmentally sustainable domestic auto industry, including unprecedented investments in advanced automotive technology and electric vehicles
  • Prioritizing mass transit and investing billions in high-speed rail projects across the country to help cut oil dependence
    Protecting over 2 million acres of wilderness, rivers, and parks
  • Canceling the Bush administration's last minute sale of oil and gas leases on important public lands near national parks
  • Cleaning up a corrupt and scandal-plagued Department of Interior
  • Scrapping the Bush administration's disastrous and destructive oil shale plans
  • Affirming that science and the rule of law will once again lead
  • Putting the U.S. back at the center of international climate negotiations, with President Obama personally negotiating the Copenhagen Accord
  • Putting the disastrous Bush administration offshore drilling plan on hold
  • Enhancing the role of EPA in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay and holding states who fail to do their part accountable
  • Devoting considerable resources to a more concerted effort to restore the Great Lakes
  • Making environmental justice and a more inclusive environmental movement top priorities at EPA
  • Abandoning the Bush administration’s misguided mercury rule in favor of strict standards that will significantly reduce this toxic poison at power plants nationwide
  • Making renewable energy priority number one at the Department of the Interior
  • Halted the Bush administration's last-minute assault on the Endangered Species Act
  • Instituting major, common-sense reforms that will bring balance to the Bureau of Land Management’s onshore oil and gas leasing program
  • Introducing a science-based standard for smog-forming Ozone and other air pollutants that will protect the public’s health and welfare
  • Making clean energy the cornerstone of the administration’s ongoing job creation and economic recovery efforts
  • Directing cooperation between agencies for optimal siting of clean energy projects
  • Putting a hold on uranium mining around the Grand Canyon
  • Establishing a new office dedicated to getting kids outside, the Office of Youth in Natural Resources
  • Declaring that the National Environmental Policy Act requires federal agencies to consider climate change impacts when conducting environmental reviews
  • Providing more than $150 million in grants to help train lower income workers for clean energy jobs
  • Proposing the first-ever one-hour standard for NOx, which will protect children, the sick, and the elderly--particularly those that live, work, or play near highways--from short-term spikes in this dangerous pollutant
  • Launched a "21st century conservation dialogue" to convince Americans of the need to preserve open space and to expand land conservation to a grander scale

For more on the Obama administration's first year in office, see recent blog posts by Carl Pope at www.sierraclub.org/CarlPope.

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