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President Obama's wrong energy answer: all of the above

Posted Mar. 22, 2012 / Posted by: Erich Pica

I wish every test and every decision we made had the answer “all of the above” as an option. It would definitely make life easier. It would make Friday evening conversations with my wife a breeze:

Hi, honey, should we go see a movie, stay home and play games, eat dinner in or go out to eat? How about all of the above?

Instead of teaching my son the differences between right and wrong, good and bad as well as actions and reactions, I could teach him the moral ambivalence of “all of the above.” Why lead when all of the above is acceptable, why make tough decisions when we can have it all, why sacrifice or take the path less travelled when we can do it all?

All of the above is an appallingly hollow answer to living life, and it is an appallingly hollow answer to the real decisions that leaders in the United States and around the world have to make to answer the challenges of global warming and how we generate and use energy. It is frankly disappointing that this is President Obama’s energy message

In adopting the “all of the above” approach, President Obama may be winning a heated political argument (which is highly debatable), but he is losing the moral basis and compass for his leadership on energy and global warming issues. Ironically, as he crisscrosses the country talking about additional oil drilling, research and development into small modular nuclear reactors and expediting the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline, he is sounding more like Senator John McCain as he ran for president, than candidate Obama.

Going further back, President Obama’s rhetoric on energy increasingly sounds eerily similar to Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2001 National Energy Policy. In 2001, Friends of the Earth responded by saying:

The Bush-Cheney energy plan's attempt to link clean energy with dirty energy is a fundamentally flawed strategy that cannot solve our nation's needs.

We went as far as releasing a cheesy funk monkey to pan the plan. 

Why should we support a presidential plan that once again links clean energy to dirty energy? Is it a stretch to draw moral and policy equivalences between President Obama, President Bush and Sen. McCain’s energy rhetoric? 

At first, I was hesitant to make the connection. After all, President Obama’s administrative actions on fuel economy standards, investments in clean energy deployment  through the American Recovery Act, and the release of the mercury rule are greater achievements than anything Sen. McCain or President Bush achieved. Unfortunately, this isn’t 2001, 2005 or 2008. This is 2012.

Since President Obama took office, we have witnessed one of the worst nuclear reactor incidents in human history, saw the worst oil spill in United States history, and watched a terrible coal mining accident in West Virginia. We are also bombarded on a daily basis with extreme weather events (like the tornado that almost hit the home of close friends in Michigan). 

The moral and leadership ambivalence of an “all of the above” energy policy is even more unforgivable now. It is more unforgivable after everything the country and the globe has experienced over the last four years -- all the lives lost and landscapes irreparably altered by climate changes that are here now and will only get worse without bold and aggressive action.

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