Response to Week 2, Prompt 2: Environmental Democracy

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This prompt implies that environmental groups no longer support President Obama. From my experience at the Sierra Club as an intern this summer, environmental groups have continued to support the president; although they do not always agree with all of his environmental policies. Progress with any major social movement is slow and requires copious amounts of patience, passion and persistence. Environmental groups agree that not enough is being done; but they still continue to support the President in the environmental endeavors that he does partake in.

Regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline, President Obama has made it very clear that he will not approve the KXL pipeline, should building it generate more greenhouse gasses than if it was not built. He will base his decision on the State Department’s environmental review of the pipeline. In the meantime, the President has already made progress in addressing climate disruption. He has had the solar panels that were removed from the White House during the Regan administration reinstalled.  President Obama also charged the Department of the Interior with the task of permitting 10 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands by the end of 2012. The DOI surpassed this goal and President Obama set the bar even higher, establishing a goal of 10 additional gigawatts by 2020. Overall, the Obama administration has made significant strides to address environmental issues, given the uncooperative Congress and harsh public that they must cooperate with.

I believe that an institutional overhaul is completely inappropriate to address environmental issues. We live in a country that allows for ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference within the established system of government. While success in environmental reform is important, it is, in my opinion, just as important to respectful to the institutions and values that the United States was built upon. If there are people in the U.S. who won’t even accept the science of climate disruption, how can we expect them to embrace a brand new, ecocentric regime?

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One response »

  1. I am often torn on how to feel about the country’s political structure and its ability and willingness to affect environmental action. While I agree that Obama has made more strides than most in environmental action and is by far a better alternative than those who have ran against him, I still feel that not enough is being done give the magnitude of this issue. Most environmental concerns that face us on a national and global scale are time sensitive and require drastic steps to be resolved or ameliorated. Given our current pace of action however, I fear that it will, if not already, be too late to avoid major adverse effects of our unsustainable behaviors by the time our government can make the necessary changes to ensure a healthy and sustaining environment. While I believe that a fair democratic process is crucial to make any needed changes to our country while remaining mindful of other areas of our society and bringing a fair voice to all involved and affects by such decisions, these processes simply take too long and have their inherent flaws. As continued environmental degradation will ultimately affect and undermine nearly every other realm of society (eventually), at home and abroad, I feel that there should be some alteration in our political workings to account for and address these pressing needs.

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