Greens Push Back on Obama’s ‘All of the Above’ Agenda

BURBANK, CA - OCTOBER 19: Honoree Bill McKibben accepts the EMA Lifetime Achievement Award onstage during the 23rd Annual Environmental Media Awards presented by Toyota and Lexus at Warner Bros. Studios on October 19, 2013 in Burbank, California. 
National Journal
Clare Foran
Jan. 29, 2014, 8:10 a.m.

The pres­id­ent’s State of the Uni­on ad­dress on Tues­day gave a boost to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s all-of-the-above en­ergy policy, much to the dis­may of ma­jor play­ers in the en­vir­on­ment­al move­ment. The head of at least one green group has plans to push back.

“Last night’s speech clearly showed that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has not yet re­con­ciled the dis­crep­ancy between its en­ergy and cli­mate policy,” Mi­chael Brune, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Si­erra Club, said in an in­ter­view. “But Si­erra Club along with many oth­er en­vir­on­ment­al or­gan­iz­a­tions will con­tin­ue to em­phas­ize this point.” 

Brune went on to say that the Si­erra Club will make the case that Pres­id­ent Obama’s en­ergy policy is un­der­cut­ting his cli­mate agenda by doc­u­ment­ing how the car­bon foot­print has ex­pan­ded dra­mat­ic­ally with in­creased do­mest­ic oil and nat­ur­al-gas pro­duc­tion. 

Earli­er this month, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted that the heads of a num­ber of en­vir­on­ment­al groups, in­clud­ing the Si­erra Club, the Nat­ur­al Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil, and the League of Con­ser­va­tion Voters, sent a let­ter to the White House say­ing that an all-of-the-above ap­proach to en­ergy policy stood at odds with the pres­id­ent’s com­mit­ment to act on cli­mate change.

“The prob­lem is that this all-of-the-above en­ergy policy is, in prac­tice, an all-of-the-be­low policy,” said Bill McK­ib­ben, founder of 350.org, an in­ter­na­tion­al cam­paign to end cli­mate change. “It’s a policy that pro­motes dig­ging up every form of hy­dro­car­bon we can find on this plan­et. If one were ser­i­ous about deal­ing with cli­mate change, one would not have an all-of-the-above policy.”

McK­ib­ben hes­it­ated even to give Obama cred­it for men­tion­ing cli­mate change dur­ing the speech. “Sure, the pres­id­ent talked about the im­port­ance of act­ing on cli­mate, but the idea that any­one should get points for that at this point strikes me as pretty ques­tion­able,” he said.

Brune did sound a note of op­tim­ism in his re­sponse to the ad­dress. “There were parts of the speech that were quite good,” he said. “It was great to hear the pres­id­ent say he’s com­mit­ted to fight­ing cli­mate change, good to hear him talk about curb­ing coal pol­lu­tion in power plants, and in­vest­ing in mod­ern­iz­ing our en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture.”

COR­REC­TION: An earli­er ver­sion of this art­icle in­cor­rectly stated that 350.org signed onto the let­ter to the pres­id­ent. 

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