President Obama’s speech on climate change yesterday was a big step for him and his administration, and rather than wait for Congress to act — they’re too busy repealing Obamacare — he’s going ahead with proposals that don’t require legislative action.
The part of the speech that caught my attention was the president getting ahead of the nay-sayers — the Flat Earth Society made up of corporate interests and Republicans who knee-jerk oppose anything the president proposes.
“Now, what you’ll hear from the special interests and their allies in Congress is that this will kill jobs and crush the economy, and basically end American free enterprise as we know it. And the reason I know you’ll hear those things is because that’s what they said every time America sets clear rules and better standards for our air and our water and our children’s health. And every time, they’ve been wrong.
“For example, in 1970, when we decided through the Clean Air Act to do something about the smog that was choking our cities — and, by the way, most young people here aren’t old enough to remember what it was like, but when I was going to school in 1979-1980 in Los Angeles, there were days where folks couldn’t go outside. And the sunsets were spectacular because of all the pollution in the air. But at the time when we passed the Clean Air Act to try to get rid of some of this smog, some of the same doomsayers were saying new pollution standards will decimate the auto industry. Guess what — it didn’t happen. Our air got cleaner.
“In 1990, when we decided to do something about acid rain, they said our electricity bills would go up, the lights would go off, businesses around the country would suffer — I quote — ‘a quiet death.’ None of it happened, except we cut acid rain dramatically.’
“See, the problem with all these tired excuses for inaction is that it suggests a fundamental lack of faith in American business and American ingenuity. These critics seem to think that when we ask our businesses to innovate and reduce pollution and lead, they can’t or they won’t do it. They’ll just kind of give up and quit. But in America, we know that’s not true.”
Good for him, and hopefully good for us. After all, now that Rolling Stone is reporting that Miami could become Atlantis, I’d rather not trade in my Pontiac for a Boston Whaler just yet.