Tomorrow is Earth Day the holiday that focuses people’s attention on the need to reduce the destructive impact that human beings are having on the ecological integrity of our planet. For sincere leaders, Earth Day is a time to recommit to concrete environmental policies that will make things better for people and all other living things in our world. At the very least, politicians are in the practice of making small eco-gestures.
Apparently, no one sent Barack Obama a memo to remind him to take some time for Mother Earth. Instead, while his campaign staff was making the arrangements for a big campaign fundraiser at George Clooney’s house, President Obama decided this week to support the anti-environmental policy of George W. Bush.
Obama has reissued a rule devised by President Bush that blocks the Endangered Species Act from being used to stop activities that are threatening the survival of polar bears from a distance. Obama’s rule states:
“The proposed 4(d) special rule would further provide that any incidental take of polar bears resulting from activities that occur outside of the current range of the species would not be a prohibited act under the ESA.”
Take is a legal term relevant to the Endangered Species Act that is used to refer to any harm that comes to members of a species from human activity – including, the Obama Administration admits, “negative effects through habitat modification”. Obama’s new rule is specifically intended to prevent government action to deal with the increasing effects of climate change, which is largely caused by human industrial activity.
Under Obama’s rule, if a company built a coal-fired power plant within the territory of polar bears, and the coal-fired power plant altered the local habitat so that polar bears could no longer live there, it would be a violation of the Endangered Species Act. However, the establishment of coal-fired power plants, and other forms of burning of fossil fuels, to such a scale that creates global warming that melts all of the ice in the Arctic, making it impossible for polar bears to survive anywhere at all – why, that’s totally okay according to Barack Obama’s new rule.
Barack Obama seems more concerned with defending George W. Bush’s legacy of inaction on climate change than he is concerned with the increasing problems being caused by global warming. The problems aren’t theoretical. The ice in the Arctic is melting – everywhere across the Arctic. The ice is thinner every year. It is disappearing. Sooner or later, it will be gone, and with it will be gone the animals that depend upon the ice to survive. Among those animals are the polar bears.
“If polar bears are to survive we have to directly confront the greatest threat to them: our greenhouse gas emissions, but the Obama administration seems to be living in a fantasy world where the way to solve a difficult problem is to deny its existence,” Kassie Siegel of the Climate Law Institute stated, after Obama’s release of the new rule. “President Obama’s proposal for these magnificent and imperiled animals is a gift to Big Oil and an affirmation of the pro-industry policies of the Bush government. When it comes to saving urgently endangered polar bears, the only ‘change’ Obama has delivered is more climate change.”
When Barack Obama abandoned legislation to deal with climate change in 2009, Democrats urged environmentalists not to worry. It’s okay, they told us, because Barack Obama is just being really, really smart. He’s a chess player, they said, and he’s playing a long game. The Democrats told us that Barack Obama would soon be taking a new route, issuing government regulations that would create the regulation of greenhouse gases to protect the habitats and living things being endangered by climate change. These new regulations would be clever, they promised, because they wouldn’t have to be approved by Congress.
That was a lie. Barack Obama didn’t issue new regulations to stop climate change. Instead, Obama is issuing rules that prevent action on climate change.
This isn’t a chess match Obama is playing. Obama isn’t playing a long game. Barack Obama is simply playing environmentalists for suckers.
This Earth Day, you’ll heard Democrats talking about how horrible Mitt Romney would be for the environment, and it’s true – as President, Mitt Romney would support anti-environmental policies. What you won’t hear Democrats talking about is the wonderful environmental record of Barack Obama. That’s because Obama has a terrible environmental record.
Obama is no environmentalist. He’s not only worked to prevent government action to deal with climate change. He’s worked to expand hydrofracking, and to increase risky offshore drilling for oil. He’s approved hunting of wolves – from the air. He’s acted to kill anti-smog protections. Obama is so resistant to environmental causes that he refused to allow solar panels to be installed on the roof of the White House – even when the solar panels were donated, creating no cost to the government.
Environmentalists certainly shouldn’t vote for Mitt Romney, but they shouldn’t vote for Barack Obama either. Obama has never kept his promises to environmentalists, and there’s no reason to believe that a second Obama term in the White House would be any better than the first.
There is an alternative. Dr. Jill Stein is running as the Green Party candidate for President on a platform that includes a serious commitment to environmental causes. On Earth Day, serious environmentalists should commit to supporting her presidential campaign. Wear one of our Jill Stein for President campaign buttons to spread the word.