Exclusive Interview: Obama Defeats Romney, Says We Must Tackle Climate Change
There are a number of sensitive issues involved in the consideration of the Keystone pipeline, demanding a fair and full assessment. My administration is conducting a thorough assessment that takes into consideration issues of public health and safety, environmental health, along with American energy security and economic factors. We will work with Nebraska and other states to conduct a rigorous, transparent and thorough review, which takes into account potential impacts on public health and natural resources. I am committed to reducing our reliance on foreign oil in a way that benefits American workers and businesses without risking the health and safety of the American people and the environment.
Audubon data shows even bird species we consider common today are adapting slowing to climate change and losing ground, with some falling as much as 68 percent in the past 40 years. How would you use laws like the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act to address this trend?
From the Arctic to the Everglades, impacts like rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, loss of sea ice, and changing precipitation patterns are affecting the species we care about, the services we value, and the places we call home. We have an obligation to safeguard our nation’s natural heritage in a changing world. Laws like the Endangered Species Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act guide my administration in helping to protect endangered and threatened species and pursue their recovery. In addition to preserving bird habitat by protecting wetlands, my administration has also taken direct steps to reduce the negative impacts of climate change on fish, birds, other wildlife, plants, and the natural systems upon which they depend. My administration is collaborating with state, local and tribal partners to release the first climate adaptation strategy for fish, wildlife, and plants. The strategy will provide a unified approach to ensure the sustainability of our many ecological, economic, and recreational resources.
Does protecting the environment cost jobs or create jobs?
As I have said many times, unfortunately, there will always be people in this country who say we’ve got to choose between clean air and clean water and a growing economy, between doing right by our environment and putting people back to work. I believe this is a false choice. Under my leadership, we have made historic investments in clean energy that have supported nearly a quarter million jobs, and we will continue to support a clean energy economy that has the potential to become part of a $2.3 trillion global market. The same environmental regulations that are cleaning up our air are also creating tens of thousands of jobs. With smart, sustainable policies, we can grow our economy today and protect our environment for ourselves and our children.
What would you like your environmental legacy to be?
From investing in clean energy to protecting our air, land, and water, I have made protecting the environment a top priority. I am pursuing an energy strategy that responsibly develops our natural resources to create clean energy jobs here at home while encouraging conservation, reducing energy waste and protecting the environment. I have taken historic steps to protect our children and communities from harmful pollution by restoring and advancing safeguards for clean air and water and by taking steps to reduce carbon pollution. My administration is also restoring treasured landscapes like the Great Lakes, the Florida Everglades, and local wilderness areas.
I also want to be remembered for implementing ideas that preserve our environment, protect our bottom line, and connect more Americans to the great outdoors. Because even in times of crisis, we’re called to take the long view to preserve our national heritage—because in doing so we fulfill one of the responsibilities that falls to all of us as Americans, and as inhabitants of this same small planet. I feel an abiding bond with the land that is the United States of America.