For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Kierán Suckling, (520) 275-5960

Center for Biological Diversity's Statement on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON - Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, released the following statement on President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday.

“President Obama’s ‘year of action’ rightly includes climate change, but his plans for fighting carbon pollution just aren't bold enough or big enough to head off disaster.

“Climate change is already upon us, and there’s far worse to come. The president’s own scientists announced last week that 2013 was the fourth-hottest year on record and have predicted that the planet’s average temperature could rise as much as 10 degrees by 2100, taking a terrible toll on biodiversity and human communities around the globe.

“The climate crisis warrants courage and visionary boldness that transcends the politics of the day. President Obama has to leave his comfort zone and take action against the planet-warming pollution spewing from our tailpipes and smokestacks. He must set a national cap for carbon pollution, toughen power plant rules to achieve meaningful emission reductions, and reject dangerous Arctic drilling and the dirty Keystone pipeline.

“Unless President Obama changes course, he will help usher in an era of climate chaos. The president must confront the big polluters mortgaging our children’s future by contaminating our atmosphere with carbon emissions, racking up a climate debt that will impose horrific costs on future generations.”

Here are the five actions the Center for Biological Diversity has urged President Obama to take in 2014 to curb pollution and fight climate change:


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1. Create a national cap on carbon pollution: The president should order the Environmental Protection Agency to set a national pollution cap for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The agency has already set caps for six other pollutants, including carbon monoxide and lead. Between 1980 and 2010, emissions of these six pollutants fell by 63 percent while the gross domestic product grew by 128 percent. Meanwhile, carbon dioxide emissions, which were unregulated, went up by 21 percent.

2. Strengthen Power Plant Pollution Rules: The Obama administration must greatly strengthen regulations aimed at cutting the billions of metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution emitted every year by fossil fuel-powered power plants. The EPA’s recently published proposed rule for new plants would not achieve any actual pollution reductions from gas-fired plants, even though existing technology would allow the industry to cut emissions. The president should also order the agency to immediately regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, the nation’s largest source of carbon pollution.

3. Push to end subsidies for oil companies: Even as petroleum companies rake in up to $175,000 a minute in profits, the U.S. government hands out more than $4 billion per year in tax credits and subsidies to the oil industry. President Obama must push for an end to this federal largesse, which rewards an industry that contributes massively to the carbon pollution warming the planet.  

4. Reject the Keystone XL pipeline and other dangerous energy projects: The climate crisis would be profoundly deepened by the construction of this pipeline, which would transport up to 35 million gallons of oil a day from Canada's tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico. Extracting and refining tar sands oil produces two times more greenhouse gases per barrel than conventional oil, which is why Dr. James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, has called the Keystone pipeline "game over" for the climate. The Keystone pipeline cannot go forward without State Department approval, and the president should stop the project permanently. Beyond Keystone, the Obama administration must curb other tar sands energy projects, reject oil drilling in the Arctic, and begin a large-scale transition to more renewable forms of energy.

5. Ban fracking and end fossil fuel development on public lands: The Obama administration should stop leasing millions of acres of publicly owned lands for fracking and other highly polluting forms of fossil fuel development. Fracking and drilling for oil and gas produce about 50 percent more methane than suggested by federal estimates, according to a recent study. Methane is more than 80 times more powerful at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. But the Obama administration’s recently released rules for fracking on public lands don't even require well operators to use devices to capture methane. Given calls by the industry to export oil and gas, it is clear that we don't have any need to sully our federal public lands and offshore areas.


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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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