Celebrating President Obama’s environmental legacy

by Margie Alt on January 12, 2017


“From the Climate Action Plan to investing in renewable energy and setting strong fuel economy standards and forging the historic Paris Climate Agreement, President Obama’s unprecedented leadership on cutting global warming emissions will ensure a brighter future for our planet.” Anna Aurilio, DC Office Director

•    The historic Paris Climate Agreement limits global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (with an aspirational goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius), a benchmark scientists say is critical to avoid the devastating impacts that could render the planet uninhabitable. The document includes provisions to track, verify, and update individual nations’ pollution reduction strategies every five years.  By taking strong domestic action and forging an unprecedented agreement with China in 2014, President Obama helped catalyze the Paris Climate Agreement.
•    Doubling fuel efficiency standards for cars by 2025 will eliminate six billion metric tons of global warming pollution and reduce oil use by 12 billion barrels while saving consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump.
•    New standards for trucks and buses, including eighteen-wheelers, school and transit buses, and other large vehicles will make them more efficient and less polluting, and will reduce carbon emissions by 1.1 billion metric tons and oil consumption by up to two billion barrels.
•    President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, including the Clean Power Plan, set the first ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants.  It cuts pollution from power plants by 32% by 2030, preventing more than 3600 premature deaths and nearly 100,000 asthma attacks every year. The administration also acted to reduce other dangerous climate pollutants, including through the International Agreement to Reduce Hydrofluorocarbons and rules to reduce harmful methane emissions.


“President Obama and his Administration deserve tremendous kudos for jumpstarting America’s clean energy revolution. Today we have 20 times more solar power and three times more wind energy compared to when he took office eight years ago, and energy efficiency is now more than a ‘personal virtue’ — it’s the basis for our energy policy.  History will judge the Obama years as the turning point in America’s shift to 100% renewable energy.” Rob Sargent, Energy Program Director

•    In one of his first acts as president, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invested $90 billion in renewable technology and clean transportation — the largest single investment in clean energy in history.
•    The Obama administration designated eight wind energy areas off the Atlantic Coast which have the potential to power 6 million households.  This new renewable capacity will provide power when it is needed most on hot summer afternoons and when winter heating needs are at capacity. The projects already in development off the East Coast could avert 9.3 million tons of the carbon pollution fueling the climate crisis, while cutting smog and soot pollution that threaten our health.
•    Since 2009, the Obama Administration issued 44 new or updated appliance standards on a range of appliances and equipment. The energy savings from these standards—42 quads by 2030—is roughly equivalent to the amount of energy used by all U.S. buildings in one year.


“After the hottest year on record, we can’t afford to keep drilling and burning fossil fuels. Not only did President Obama recognize this urgent need, but he acted boldly and swiftly, protecting more public lands and waters from drilling, mining, and fracking than any other president in history and leaving a cleaner climate for our children.” Rachel Richardson, Stop Drilling Program Director

•    By rejecting the Keystone Pipeline, President Obama backed up his bold vision on climate with bold action against polluters, stopping a project that would have produced 26 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year, the equivalent of 5.7 million cars.
•    Stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline was a win for our climate, our drinking water, and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The 1,000 mile-long Dakota Access pipeline would have transported 450,000 barrels of fracked oil per day directly under the Missouri River which provides drinking water for 18 million people, as well as through countless communities and sacred tribal lands.
•    President Obama permanently protected the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic from offshore drilling.  Scientists are clear that the fossil fuels on already leased federal lands, if all extracted and burned at current rates, would last well beyond the point when carbon pollution must cease to meet limits in the Paris Agreement. By permanently protecting 98% of the U.S. Arctic and 31 underwater canyons in the Atlantic, President Obama guaranteed no new leasing will take place in these public waters.


“President Obama, thank you for your work to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink.   Your administration’s efforts will help safeguard the health of millions of Americans for years to come.”  John Rumpler, Clean Water Program Director

•    New EPA restrictions on mercury and other toxic pollution from power plants will protect our air, our water, and our families’ health. These standards will avert up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks every year.
•    The Obama Administration’s Clean Water Rule restored protections to half our nation’s streams, which help provide drinking water to 117 million Americans.


“This country is blessed with spectacular landscapes, majestic waterways, and incredibly diverse ecosystems. President Obama had the foresight and the fortitude to protect many of the most sensitive and beloved places and creatures so that future generations might experience the same wonders we do today.” Margie Alt, Executive Director

•    President Obama has protected more landscapes and water ecosystems than any president in history by establishing 29 National Monuments, protecting a total of 553 million acres of land and water. From places like the vast Mojave Trail in California and the rocky spires of New Mexico’s Organ Mountains, to Maine’s Katahdin Lakes and Forests and the first ever Atlantic Ocean monument, future generations will have the same opportunities to appreciate natural beauty and wildlife that we do today.
•    Our coastal communities, tourism and fishing industry, wildlife and vacationers that depend on a healthy ocean environment are better off thanks to the Obama Administration’s 5 year plan that blocked the sale of new offshore drilling rights on the Atlantic coast.
•    The Obama Administration set enforceable pollution limits to restore America’s largest estuary, the Chesapeake Bay, and protected the magnificent waters and forests of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters from the havoc and pollution of a massive toxic mining operation.
•    The Arctic’s polar bears, beluga whales, ice seals, and other precious marine life that call the region home are better protected along with the Atlantic’s deep-water corals, deep diving beaked whales, and sea turtles thanks to the Obama Administration’s decisions to permanently withdraw drilling leases from the Arctic and Atlantic oceans and to stop seismic testing.

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