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Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 5.8.08




More Than a Plan

Standing up for our environment together

BY SEN. BARACK OBAMA

The 38th annual celebration of Earth Day was an urgent reminder that our planet is in peril. We're seeing record drought, famine and forest fires — and rising sea levels that could one day submerge cities around the world. For decades, politicians have promised Americans that they will tackle these problems. And yet, real reform has been blocked by the big oil and energy companies. It's time to do what's right for our nation and our planet, not what serves a corporate bottom line.

The people of Oregon understand this. You should be proud of your strong record on the environment, and you'll have a partner in the White House when I'm president. On the issue of county payments, I support enactment of a long-term solution to the payment program. I also applaud your state's leadership in Congress to find a meaningful, long-term solution that will provide Oregon with the resources you need to invest in a strong education system and create a sustainable economy.

Recently, there has also been a lot of discussion about the issue of liquid natural gas pipelines in this state. I have always believed that we need to give governors and local communities a say before siting natural gas facilities like pipelines in our communities. That's why I voted for this measure years ago and why I am also a co-sponsor of Senator Wyden's current bill to protect local interests in these important issues.

America needs to show the same kind of leadership as Oregon, and that's what we'll do when I'm president. I've been fighting to put the interests of our environment ahead of the special interests throughout my career. I fought to invest in renewable energy and improve energy efficiency. I opposed the Bush administration's pro-industry policies even though some were popular in my home state. And I went to Detroit and told a group of automakers that when I'm president, we will help their industry retool its plants, but they must raise fuel-economy standards. My bipartisan plan to raise fuel standards won support from people who'd never supported the idea before.

That's the kind of leadership I will offer as president. I was the first candidate in this race to propose reducing our oil consumption by a third in the coming decades. My plan to address global warming will set a hard cap on carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb adverse impacts to our environment — an 80 percent reduction by 2050. Under the cap-and-trade proposal I've outlined, no business will be allowed to emit any greenhouses gases for free — something I was also the first candidate to propose. And we'll also invest $150 billion over 10 years to strengthen our green energy sector so we can build solar panels and windmills, and create up to five million new jobs — and those are jobs that pay well, and can't be outsourced.

 

To help us reach my goal of making America 50 percent more energy efficient by 2030, we'll ensure that our federal and local governments are working together on energy efficiency. We'll also create a special fund to get technologies from laboratories to the marketplace and help make energy-efficient households and businesses the rule, not the exception.

But it's going to take more than just a plan to address the environmental challenges we face. We'll have to put partisanship aside, bring Democrats and Republicans together and tell the oil companies and their armies of lobbyists that their brand of special-interest politics is no longer welcome in our nation's Capitol. We'll have to be honest with the American people — and call on them to make the sacrifices that are required to protect our planet for our children. And we'll have to lead a global effort to stop climate change once and for all. That's the future Earth Day calls on us to work towards. And that's the vision I will fight to make real as president.