Exclusive Interview: Obama Defeats Romney, Says We Must Tackle Climate Change

Exclusive Interview: Obama Defeats Romney, Says We Must Tackle Climate Change

The president provides written answers to 10 critical questions about the environment.

By Alisa Opar
Published: 11/07/2012

In the lead up to the 2012 presidential election, mention of--much less discussion about--the environment was noticeably absent. President Barack Obama said that climate change is "one of the biggest issues of this generation" in September, but in months of campaigning it hardly came up. To the dismay of environmentalists, he didn't raise the subject once during the three debates with Mitt Romney--the first time since 1984 that neither candidates nor moderators broached the topic in a presidential debate. The politician who did the most to bring global warming into the race for the White House was New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who made it the focus of his endorsement of Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

His second term secured, Obama did touch on climate change in his acceptance speech early this morning. "We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet," he told supporters in Chicago.

Now, after so many months of silence on critical environmental issues, and with the president defending the coal industry during the campaign, there are many questions about Obama's aims for the next four years. Audubon's exclusive responses from the president may shed some light. President Obama provided written answers to 10 questions submitted to the campaign during the heat of the election season about climate change, energy policy, and other issues of interest to Auduboners.


What are your plans to address climate change?

Climate change is the one of the biggest issues of this generation, and we have to meet this challenge by driving smart policies that lead to greater growth in clean energy generation and result in a range of economic and social benefits. Since taking office I have developed historic fuel efficiency standards that will limit greenhouse gas emissions from our vehicles for the first time in history. My administration has made unprecedented investments in clean energy, proposed the first-ever carbon pollution limits for new fossil-fuel-fired power plants, and helped lower carbon emissions significantly within the Federal Government. Since I took office, the U.S. is importing an average of 2.6 million fewer barrels of oil every day, and our dependence on foreign oil hit a 16-year low. We are also showing international leadership on climate change, reaching historic agreements to set emission limits in unison with other emerging powers. I will continue these efforts to create an economy built to last--investing in clean energy, holding polluters accountable, and reducing our carbon impact.


What role do you see wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources playing in our energy future?

I know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the global economy in the 21st century. That's why I have made the largest investment in clean energy and energy efficiency in American history and proposed an ambitious Clean Energy Standard to generate 80 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources like wind, solar, clean coal, and natural gas by 2035. Since taking office, electricity from wind and solar sources has already doubled in the United States. I am also calling on Congress to support incentives for clean energy that drive innovation and support clean energy manufacturing jobs across the country. We are boosting our use of cleaner fuels, including increasing the level of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline and implementing a new Renewable Fuel Standard that will save nearly 14 billion gallons of petroleum-based gasoline in 2022. Because of these actions, we are positioning the U.S. to be a world leader in the clean energy economy.


The Coast Guard, the United States Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, and hundreds of scientists say the industry is not prepared to drill safety in Artic waters. What is your position?

Author Profile

Alisa Opar

Alisa Opar is the articles editor at Audubon magazine. Follow her on Twitter @alisaopar.

Type: Author | From: Audubon Magazine


Moving from liquid petroleum fuels

Natural gas is the ideal replacement for gasoline and diesel fuel TODAY; it is cheaper, cleaner and produced domestically. Widespread conversion from liquid petroleum-based motor fuels to natural gas and electricity is the ONLY way to break OPEC market power over American consumers. Breaking the supply-side oligopoly that supports OPEC is an essential first step towards real energy freedom. Empowering consumers to choose motor fuels will accelerate transition to even more sustainable gaseous and electric motor fuels and vehicle technologies.

Just another politician hedging his answers

Obama's adminstration has already allowed weakening of the ESA incl. delisting of the wolf. He has proven himself to be too weak to stand up for what he talks about, calling it "compromise" to cave in to the teaparty/plutocratic industrial interests. Is he ignoring a possible link of frakking to increased earthquakes? Does he really think that listing the frakking chemicals will make it safer? How about pushing to revise the ancient Mining Act, or adequately funding NPS & USFWS, or rescinding oil subsidies, or stopping the exportation of currently produced US oil while we continue to import it, or honoring treaties with Native Americans instead of ramming the Keystone pipeline down their throats? Just another politician...

Obama's promises

I admit, he's good with words, but 80% of his promises during his last term have been that - just words. The fact that he supports expanding fracking, tar sand pipelines, and up drilling in the Arctic, make his promises no more than that - promises that most likely will not be kept. As far as what he has done - too little and too late.

Still delusional

Safeguards? who are you kidding. "Oops." there IS no safe level for drilling in the fragile Arctic, nor for fracking near water sources (read: everywhere).
Keeping down prices at the pump?--already artificially low. Get us OFF the fossil fuels, as Fast as Possible! anything else is courting Disaster (which we are already seeing).
How will "protecting" endangered birds work, after the Gulf Stream has stalled and the permafrost has melted to release all the sequestered methane?
Convene a panel of actual scientists- let me introduce you to Jim Hansen- and roll up your sleeves. Nothing is more urgent.

thought he forgot

Wow I thought he forgot about us...maybe he can get to it now.

Obama climate

There's no such thing as clean coal and natural gas is a product of regular old oil drilling, baby. Stick to the solar, wind an OTHER resources available to us Mr President.


Sorry Mr President but I really don't believe anything you say any more.I was happy when you were elected,especially since you are the first black president and i had hoped you would bring the country together.Instead,I've watched you split us between race and rich and poor.
At one time we were a people who cared about the other guy,But Mr President you've managed to create a country riven between ethnic and social strata.This is not a good nor healthy thing and it will hurt America in the long run.Take from the rich and give to the poor sounds like Robin Hood, but in reality it creates conflict and that's just where we're going.
I wish you'd been sincere when you said you wanted us to not be red or blue, but Americans.
That was wonderful rhetoric,but rhetoric is all it was.
God Bless this country Duke

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