EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar delivered two speeches apiece last week that challenged the GOP claims that the administration has put the brakes on the economy by implementing environmental over-regulation and keeping too much public land off-limits to oil and gas drilling.
At American University on Friday:
“Our mission day in, day out, is to protect the health of the American people, by keeping pollution out of the air that we all breathe, by keeping toxins out of the water that we all drink, keeping harmful chemicals out of the lands where we build our homes, and our communities, our schools, our churches,” Jackson said.And then there was Salazar who said at an April 24 National Press Club luncheon address that Republicans and other critics were living in a fantasy energy world:
“The work that we do each and every day is focused on ensuring that our economy works for the American people,” she said.
"I think that those who have stood in the way of solutions are going to find the ground shifting under their feet," Salazar maintained. "The energy world is changing, with or without them. Whether it's our oil and gas technology, our solar power plants, or our auto manufacturers, the pace of American innovation is staggering. The US is determined to lead in the new energy world."It's easy enough to argue, from the left and from a "greener" perspective, against various aspects of what both Jackson and especially Salazar are saying. Or with what Obama himself has said and done regarding opening up public lands for more drilling.
But, at the same time, the administration has put more billions of dollars into green energy projects than any presidency, ever. It's the closest thing the U.S. has to a desperately needed industrial plan.
Republicans would like to make that all about wasteful spending. But, in fact, it's an investment in the future with a big payoff. And it complements what many states are doing. In Iowa, for instance, wind power now generates nearly 19 percent of the state's electricity. That's in large part a result of the federal Production Tax Credit that gives incentives to the renewable energy industry by giving investors some certainty about their return on investment.
The PTC expires in eight months, and Republicans seem determined not to renew it despite the fact that it already generates tens of thousands of jobs nationwide. Government investment in new battery technology also provides jobs and lays the groundwork for many more in the future. These are just a few such investments that aren't only about jobs and energy "independence," important as those are: They are also about reducing our impact on the atmosphere by cutting carbon emissions.
Republicans and other myopic critics never seem to understand that the economy and the environment are not separate entities. They are inextricably entangled. The failure to acknowledge this, not just in rhetoric but also in policy, is yet one more arena of GOP fail. That's a message the Obama campaign team is right to keep pounding whatever its own shortcomings in the matter.