Climate addressed in President’s post-reelection remarks

By Chris Riotta

“We want our kids to grow up in an America… that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” said the president in his acceptance speech Tuesday night.

Throughout the three national presidential debates, a sub-plot developed regarding the omission of an open climate change discussion. Similarly, neither candidate openly embraced a stance toward global warming throughout the election season. However, the President’s post-reelection remarks seemed to suggest a willingness to now speak openly about energy policies and improving the environment.

Still, the environment can not improve solely on the basis of who holds the highest office in the world’s most powerful nation.  Any significant change in the U.S. government’s stance on the environment will require Congress to take action, with compromise from Republicans and some Democrats alike.

In his acceptance speech, Obama vowed to work with Congress on “freeing ourselves from foreign oil.” As for coal, the EPA set strict limits on mercury pollution from coal-fired plants and put an upper limit on the amount of carbon dioxide that could be emitted from any new power plant built in the United States in Obama’s first term.  His reelection to the White House means that those EPA limits will last at least another four years.

Obama’s reelection may have big implications on the nation’s environment and energy usage, as well as the future of energy policy in the United States.

At the end of 2012, a federal tax credit for wind power is set to expire, which is already leading to layoffs in the wind industry. Obama wants an extension of the credit, while presidential candidate governor Mitt Romney was opposed for an extension.

A recent analysis by Resources for the Future shows that the United States is set to reduce carbon emissions 16.3 percent by 2020. This reduction will likely be met, given that it’s in line with the Obama Administration’s international climate policies negotiated during his first term in office.