Published on November 4th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


On Obama: CleanTechnica’s Evaluation & Endorsement

November 4th, 2012 by  

Following up on my “On Romney” post from earlier today, here is my take on President Obama, especially in regards to cleantech issues we focus on here on CleanTechnica.

In the case of an Obama evaluation, we have the benefit of looking at what Obama has actually done in a presidential role. To be quite honest, it is a lot. Those who claim otherwise must be very uninformed. Here’s one simplistic quote on this matter that I really like:

“I have no idea what standard people are using to declare Obama’s first term a failure. To save us from a Great Depression, rescue the auto industry, re-regulate Wall Street, decimate al Qaeda, kill bin Laden and Qaddafi and provide universal healthcare? That’s failure?” — Andrew Sullivan

And that doesn’t even get into the issue we’re most focused on — cleantech policies geared towards preventing the biggest decimation of the human population in history (due to global warming and its ramifications). So, let’s just get right into that….

Clean Energy & Climate Change Policy

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), broad and varied support was provided to energy efficiency, solar energy, wind energy, geothermal, biogas, hydroelectricity, electric vehicles, a smarter grid, and green jobs.

Obama has also established an Energy Partnership for the Americas, a coalition that would “increase research and development in clean coal technology, the next generation of sustainable biofuels and in wind, solar and nuclear energy,” according to a campaign position memo. “The partnership will also look for ways for nations to coordinate to transport green energy across national borders. It will help Latin American and Caribbean nations become more energy independent and promote sustainable growth for the region. The partnership also will create additional markets for American biofuels and American-made green energy technology.”

Obama also initiated work towards creating a new climate service to help businesses transition to a green economy. “The bottom line is this — the better climate information that alternative energy companies have, the more profitable they can be, the more jobs they can create and the more they can actually meet the energy demands of our country and indeed the world,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. On a similar front, Obama kept a promise to help create a global climate change research and monitoring system.

Obama, some contend, failed on climate and clean energy in one big way by not prioritizing a climate and energy bill in his first two years in office. Though, it’s quite debatable if that would have gone anywhere, with so many members of Congress (in particular, Republicans in Congress) taking tons of money from Big Oil, Big Coal, and Big Gas and vehemently protecting those industries’ profits in any way possible. Nonetheless, clean energy and climate action had (and still have) broad public support, and such a bill wasn’t prioritized in the Obama administration’s first two years despite having a Democratic majority in the House and Senate (notably, once the Tea Party got a strong hold on Congress 2 years ago, such a bill was hopeless… as was almost everything).

As part of a big jobs plan proposal, Obama also looked to give solar and wind companies tax credits that would spur their growth and job creation.

In January 2010, Obama ordered the largest energy consumer in the nation, the US government, to cut greenhouse gas emissions 28% by 2020, spurring energy efficiency and clean energy investments of all sorts.

Obama also proposed eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, in 2010, something that is common sense and which has strong public support, but which most politicians won’t utter and has been strongly blocked by super rich fossil fuel industries and their well-funded friends in politics.

The Obama administration also fast-tracked the cleantech patent application process. As I noted at the time, “normally, an applicant would wait about 2 years for a patent to be approved. Under this program, green technology innovators only have to wait about 49 days.”

And in yet another arena where Obama has enough influence to make a difference without congressional support, clean energy on public land has more than quadrupled under Obama. And an additional renewable energy projects totaling 10,000 megawatts were recently approved by the Department of Interior.

One minus in the Obama column is the person who he appointed to head the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). From delaying an important greenhouse gas pollution rule, to delaying just about every other rule to walk through OIRA’s door (and often modifying the for the worse), Cass Sunstein has been as bad as it gets in this role. OIRA “has changed more than 80% of the rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency,” a 2012 report found. “None of these were changes for the good.”

Again in the “plus” column, Obama has established a Biofuels Working Group so that biofuels experts work in coordination to come up with a comprehensive approach to alternative fuels.

Obama has streamlined the offshore wind energy approval process in logical ways. With zero offshore wind farms up in the US, and several other countries having several such wind farms, this was a very important help to the wind industry.

His administration has also created solar energy development zones on public lands in order to greatly boost solar power while also doing so in an environmentally sensitive way.

And, the Obama administration has found specific ways to advance energy efficiency and clean energy use amongst US farmers, benefiting both the farmers and the rest of society.

Energy Efficiency

Obama implemented a Better Buildings Initiative that will create about 100,000 jobs, make a smashing number of buildings at least 20% more efficient, cut emissions greatly, and cut businesses’ energy bills by about $1.4 billion.

A new auto fuel mileage rule established under the Obama administration which requires “all newly manufactured automobiles that fall under the car or light truck category to achieve a minimum gas mileage of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025” will reportedly save US consumers about $1.7 trillion, as well as cut greenhouse gas emissions tremendously. By 2025, it will have an equivalent consumer cost effect to lowering the price of gas by $1/gallon.

Obama has also established new initiatives to increase energy efficiency in the US military.

And Obama has established energy efficiency block grants for states and localities. “The program specifically names building codes and inspections to promote energy efficiency as projects that could be approved. Other such projects include development of an energy efficiency strategy, residential and commercial building energy audits and energy efficient retrofits of existing buildings.”

High-Speed Rail & Streetcars

Obama put a ton of work into creating high-speed rail in the US (which is far behind numerous other countries in this arena), something that a huge percentage of the population supports. While Tea Party governors in some states have blocked the federal support for projects in their states for no logical reason, other states are happily moving forward with the support. Notably, mass transit/rail is a top (if not the top) job creator per $1 invested:

Due to a slight transformation in federal transportation policy (long overdue), streetcar projects across the US have been able to get support that other transportation projects had long benefited from.

Additionally, hundreds of transportation projects across the US have benefited from ARRA funds and support; creating jobs (see above), much needed clean transportation options, and more.

Notably, on other clean transportation fronts, Obama established a tax credit for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, purchased 5,600 hybrids for the federal vehicle fleet, and greatly increased support for bicycling and walking.

Green Jobs

In addition to all the above, here’s a quick list of a few more of Obama’s green jobs policies:

  1. Created job training programs in clean technologies for displaced workers.
  2. Created Green Vet Initiative to promote environmental jobs for veterans.
  3. Established program to convert manufacturing centers into clean technology leaders.

CleanTechnica Endorsement: Obama

With all of the above successes, more strong clean energy and green promises from Obama if he has another 4 years in his current role, and the completely anti-green campaign of Romney, I think it’s clear who CleanTechnica should endorse for president.

Of course, some might contend that we should endorse Jill Stein. However, with such a clear difference between the two main contenders, and with all of the cleantech support noted above, CleanTechnica is endorsing Obama without hesitation. Hopefully we can look forward to another 4 years of strong cleantech support and growth under Obama.

For more on Obama’s cleantech policies, click the links above and see:

  1. Difference Between Obama & Romney on Energy, Climate Change, Clean Air, Energy Efficiency, & Public Lands
  2. Obama Stimulus, Especially for Clean Energy, Helped Country
  3. Renewable Electricity Nearly Doubles with Obama in Office
  4. $1 BILLION — Stimulus Funding Awarded for Renewable Energy
  5. Obama Announces New Recovery Act Smart Grid Funding — $3.4 Billion
  6. President Obama’s Jobs Speech (Full Text & Video from White House + Commentary)
  7. Obama’s Energy-Efficient Buildings Initiative Will Create 114,000 Jobs, New Report Finds
  8. Sunshine State Politician Says US Can’t Compete with China on Solar; Obama: “I’m Not Going to Surrender to Other Countries”
  9. Obama’s Better Buildings Bonanza! (Video, Facts, & More)
  10. Independent Report: DOE Loan Program Working, Could Be Improved
  11. Obama vs Romney on Energy (Chart)

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Pingback: Democrats vs Republicans -- Differences | PlanetSave()

  • The Invester

    I have given my time and real money to bringing a renewable energy source as well as pure drinking water to those around the world who NEED it. But then I can’t wait to make a big profit off the system selling it to the liberal whiners with big opinions and nothing else to offer. I’ll be laughing all the way to the big banks, and I will have acted on creating good for mankind instead of just bitching about it. So keep up the discussions, as I keep up the profits.

    • Bob_Wallace

      If you can produce clean, renewable energy and pure drinking water at an excellent price then I hope you make tons of money.

      I’d love to see a new generation of very rich people who got that way via renewable energy and improved living conditions rather than a bunch of very rich people who earned their money via fossil fuels and destroying the planet.

      That’s coming from a liberal. No whining.

    • I’m not really clear at all where this came from, but no worries. And yes, it is nice to make a good living off of good work that helps the world. I’m happy to be in that boat, and happy if you end up in that boat as well. Good luck with your investments.

  • Zach,

    Tomorrow (as I write this) is election day. I live in PA and there seems to be some doubt as to the outcome here. The state has voted democratic most of the time but I don’t see any Obama signs in my neck of the woods (and I mean the woods literally)…

    A few points as to why I considered voting for Jill. First she is not Romney. Any vote MUST be anti Romney for several reasons with ENERGY and the ENVIRONMENT being the most important issues.

    Obama, as you note, has a much better energy policy than anything the GOP can muster. He has also faced the most obstructionist GOP congress in the history of the US. (shame on those racists) However. he has been a major disappointment in many ways.

    He is still banging the 911 drum ( and we now know that that was a LIE) fostering war (there are still a lot of independent contractors {soldiers} in Iraq doing bad things) and his drone crap is not an effective way to “execute” (pun intended) foreign policy. It is making us more hated internationally than ever. He did not kill Bin Laden. He died of natural causes in ’01 or ’02. He continues to support tar sand oil with the pipeline in TX. In the debate with Romney they were arguing who would do more drilling in the US. US drilling is up a lot, by the way. He still surrounds himself with the very people who caused the ’08 financial collapse and has not brought back Glass-Steagall (which Clinton is responsible for)..

    I could go on but that isn’t the main point. I was going to vote for Jill but tomorrow I will hold my nose and vote for Obama simply to try to prevent a Romney presidency. It’s all a very complicated situation and I personally have struggled with my decision but in the end I have to agree with you, though not without some regret. It’s just a shame that our political system always leaves us with too few real choices.
    From the choir bench,

  • rkt9

    Thanks for the good reviews! I would like to see some of the 3rd party candidates included in the future. Third party candidates may not ever stand a chance of winning, but history shows us that they often bring issues worthy of discussion to the table.

    Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein have very strong Green Energy stances!

    • Fully agree. Wish I had managed my time better in order to get to those.

      • dcard88

        Yes, dont EVER make a mistake again. 😉

  • Lawrence

    A quality endorsement. I fully agree with your endorsement. I just wish it had come a little sooner.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I fault most of us for not doing enough to publicize the good stuff as it happened. Far too many people are getting to the polls thinking that PBO didn’t do anything.

  • There were only 5 months in his first term when the Democrats had a filibuster proof majority. Considering the near total obstructionism of the Tea Party he got a lot done. Fun Fact the H.M.S. Romney was the Royal Navy warship dispatched by the British to enforce the Crown’s right of taxation on the rebellious American colonists.

    • Bob_Wallace

      It was actually less than that, only 96 days.

      There was another month or so when the count was high enough but during that time Ted Kennedy was on his deathbed, not available to vote. Kennedy essentially left the Senate in April and his replacement did not come on board and bring the voting count to 60 until late September.

    • Yeah, I know. Looking to make a little more of that in a coming post. Probably should have emphasized more here, too.

    • Amazing fact on the war ship! 😀

  • Bob_Wallace

    A good review, Zach.

    Looking forward to two more years of PBO doing what he can via the power granted a president. And during those two years we need to be working to return control of Congress to people who will pass the climate bills we need.

    Over the next two years the cost of wind, solar and other renewable generation should continue to fall. If we have a couple more years of “odd” weather people should be motivated to greatly increase our move away from fossil fuels. We should have an excellent opportunity to make magic happen.

    • You might not know this Bob but recently the US Commerce Dept announced tariffs on Chinese panels that will cost us about 3 billion annually. Does not portend well for solar prices dropping much this year or until that tariff is lifted.

      Your right on the weather issue. Maybe it will finally wake a lot of sleepers up to the seriousness of the situation.

      Hoping for the magic,

      • Bob_Wallace

        Well aware. Nothing but a bump in the road. Panel prices are very low, we need to deal with the BOS costs.

  • gary miller

    Perhaps the best way to support the green social and economic agenda is to buy Made-In-USA and local self-reliance. Our economy and nation is blocked right now by those focused on internationalism as a method of exploiting our citizens labour value to minority and narrow profit objectives. America is in a race to where?
    It hardly takes a genius to realize if you and I do not take control of our own, we will have no substitute for others making our choices for us? I expect the current administrtion to continue after the elections. I also expect gridlock to contnue, either way
    We cannot just sit and wait for politcos sponsored by the 1% to change a system of things that brings vast fortunes and favors, to itself just as it is (they operate on finanical incentive and dominance pleasure rewards and why change what working for them). The concepts of Bio-Balancing, Good Work, and The Philosophy of Moderation really have no apparent benefit to them and theirs.
    What we Ameicans are experiencing right now appears to be a descent into third-worldism via a choke-hold on our job creation by these interests that control and proudly operate both sides of our politcal benchs. The only moral and correct path to instead bring n uplife to all americans is to go green and local and personal. Vertical Farming, earth tube heating and cooling, passive and active solar heating, greenhouses, urban orchards and gardens, recycling, DIY, barter/trade/share . . . these are what will change our lifes and community to create a solid basis from which to build America Up!
    I’d rather have some emergency solarcells than Windows 8 or a faster tablet. I do not need solar subs to understand I now have some emergency power and some bottled water/canned goods?
    Ask yourself . . . where were the energy companies petro trucks pulling up with security and independent power generators, to communities without either? They could not donate this as a corporate social responsbility self-felt? The BODs have not even the sense of self-promotion instinct and very favorable free PR?
    They could have got together with local media and said ‘look what we did!’? They could have drawn these monies from normal media advertisment budgets and come out net-positive.

    • Definitely agree. We have a big network-wide project planned on voting with your money.

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