Exclusive Interview: Obama Defeats Romney, Says We Must Tackle Climate Change
The president provides written answers to 10 critical questions about the environment.
In order to lower our dependence on foreign oil and help families save at the pump, safely and responsibly expanding domestic oil production is part of my all-of-the-above energy strategy. However, I have insisted that we implement a balanced and careful approach to offshore development that addresses environmental concerns; the social, cultural, and subsistence needs of local communities, and resource constraints. The Arctic is a unique ecosystem--that's why my administration has put together a targeted leasing plan that sets a new standard for considering the environmental and safety challenges of the Arctic and diminishing risks. This plan minimizes possible conflicts with environmentally sensitive areas and the native Alaskan communities that rely on the ocean for subsistence use. It integrates heightened safety requirements and considerations that will employ the highest possible level of caution in this important ecological and natural resource.
Would you permit drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and what will you do to protect sensitive areas like Teshekpuk Lake in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska?
My administration has no plans to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I am committed to protect and conserve wildlife and their habitat on sensitive public lands with exceptional ecological value. The Arctic Wildlife Refuge is among the most profoundly beautiful places in America and would not permit drilling in one of American's greatest treasures. We are actively considering options to protect the Teshekpuk Lake area of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, which is home to the northern hemisphere's largest concentration of nesting migratory birds and is a unique habitat for a number of species important to Alaskans and native populations.
How will you ensure oil drilling for natural gas, including fracking, doesn't lead to long-term damage or the permanent poisoning of our water supplies and habitat?
To ensure that hydraulic fracking is done in a safe and responsible manner, my administration has proposed a number of safeguards to protect against water and air contamination. This includes proposing commonsense requirements for companies to protect drinking water sources across 750 million acres of public and tribal lands. It would require companies to publicly disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, manage their wastewater and safeguard drilling wells from leaking. We've also issued standards that will require operators of natural gas wells to capture smog-forming pollutants and air toxics that otherwise escape the well. These standards will ensure that we capture 95 percent of the harmful emissions from these wells that previously polluted our air and threatened our climate and will also allow operators of these wells to increase their bottom line by selling the additional captured gas.
In your administration, what role will the EPA play protecting our air and water?
My commitment to protecting public health and the environment is unwavering. Under my leadership, my administration is working hard to make sure that the air we breathe and the water we drink is safe. America prospers when we're all in it together and everyone plays by the same rules, which is why we are holding polluters accountable. Recently, we implemented the first national standards to cut down on mercury and other toxic air emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants. It will make our air cleaner and families healthier, and it will save up to 11 thousand lives each year. EPA is also cleaning up contaminated sites in communities across the country, helping to rid neighborhoods of environmental blight while putting Americans back to work. I have also made historic investments to restore our rivers and coasts, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Gulf Coast, and the Great Lakes to the Everglades. We also developed a first-of-its kind National Ocean Policy for the U.S. designed to protect and enhance our oceans and restore our coastal areas. Under my Presidency, the EPA will continue to protect the environment not just for our children but their children.
The Keystone XL pipeline would transport what some consider to be the dirtiest oil in the world and cause destruction of boreal forest in the process. Will you allow it to be built?