Nov 21, 2008 (From the CalCars-News archive)
Updates on three very significant developments: 1. the postponement of any decision about federal loan guarantees to the Detroit Three; 2. the replacement of Rep. John Dingell by Rep. Henry Waxman on the House Energy & Commerce Committee; and 3. President-Elect Obama's extraordinary message on Climate Change -- this last one followed by a comment from Bill McKibben and a message from the transition about how you can learn more and get involved.
AUTOMAKERS AND FEDERAL SUPPORT: After two days of House and Senate hearings, at several points it appeared a deal had been reached Thursday, led by several Senators, to "re-allocate" the $25B already appropriated and destined for re-tooling of old factories to produce more advanced (mostly plug-in) vehicles. But Representatives, including Speaker Pelosi, opposed giving up that objective. Automakers were told to come back with details and plans to convince the lawmakers the money will be well spent, that they have figured out how to survive under daunting market and sales conditions as they evolve -- and how they'll build the far better cars we all expect. (Too many news stories to cite any!)
KEY HOUSE COMMITTEE GETS NEW FUTURE-ORIENTED CHAIRMAN:
All energy, climate change and health care legislation passes through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Since 1981, whenever the Democrats have had a House majority, it's been chaired by Rep. John Dingell, 82, the longest-serving member of Congress. In his career, he was responsible for landmark health, labor, social welfare and environmental legislation. But for decades, he has blocked most proposals that the auto industry opposed, including measures on fuel efficiency and climate change. In a secret ballot, House Democrats voted 137-122 to replace him with Rep. Henry Waxman of California -- an ally of Speaker Pelosi and a worthy counterpart to Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It's hard to overstate the impact this will have on prospects for climate change legislation.
PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA'S MESSAGE ON CLIMATE CHANGE:
Barack Obama intends to hit the ground running. He has sent the entire world an unequivocal signal of his personal support and his administration's commitment to re-engage and help lead global efforts on climate change. Here's the press release and the transcript of his short speech to what the transition website describes as "more than 600 climate change leaders from across the country and around the world convened in Los Angeles today for the opening sessions of the Global Climate Summit, a 2-day event arranged by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to break gridlock on the issue ahead of next month's United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland."
For Immediate Release: November 18, 2008 President Elect Barack Obama to Deliver Taped Greeting to Bi-Partisan Governors Climate Summit
WASHINGTON President-elect Barack Obama will deliver a surprise message by video to the Bi-Partisan Governors Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, California this morning. Obama will discuss his commitment to marking a new chapter in America's leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.
The hosts of the Summit include Governors of states who have been at the forefront of the climate debate: Governors Rod Blagojevich (IL), Charlie Crist (FL), Jim Doyle (WI), Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA) and Kathleen Sebelius (KS) as well as representatives of approximately 22 other states; government officials from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, the UK and others.
REMARKS AS DELIVERED (view the entire video at http://www.change.gov/NewChapteronClimateChange )
Let me begin by thanking the bipartisan group of U.S. governors who convened this meeting.
Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change. The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We've seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.
Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.
I know many of you are working to confront this challenge. In particular, I want to commend Governor Sebelius, Governor Doyle, Governor Crist, Governor Blagojevich and your host, Governor Schwarzenegger all of you have shown true leadership in the fight to combat global warming. And we've also seen a number of businesses doing their part by investing in clean energy technologies.
But too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office. My presidency will mark a new chapter in America's leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.
That will start with a federal cap and trade system. We will establish strong annual targets that set us on a course to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80% by 2050.
Further, we will invest $15 billion each year to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future. We will invest in solar power, wind power, and next generation biofuels. We will tap nuclear power, while making sure it's safe. And we will develop clean coal technologies.
This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the United States more secure. And it will not only help us bring about a clean energy future, saving our planet. It will also help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced.
But the truth is, the United States cannot meet this challenge alone. Solving this problem will require all of us working together. I understand that your meeting is being attended by government officials from over a dozen countries, including the UK, Canada and Mexico, Brazil and Chile, Poland and Australia, India and Indonesia. And I look forward to working with all nations to meet this challenge in the coming years.
Let me also say a special word to the delegates from around the world who will gather at Poland next month: your work is vital to the planet. While I won't be President at the time of your meeting and while the United States has only one President at a time, I've asked Members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to me on what they learn there.
And once I take office, you can be sure that the United States will once again engage vigorously in these negotiations, and help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change.
Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response. The stakes are too high. The consequences, too serious.
Stopping climate change won't be easy. It won't happen overnight. But I promise you this: When I am President, any governor who's willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that's willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that's willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America. Thank you.
BILL MCKIBBEN REACTS: The noted author/journalist/activist is co-founder of StepItUp and more recently of 350.org. Aong with www.WeCanSolveIt.org and www.1sky.org, www.350.org is a new climate change organization; the name refers to the need for the world to return to 30 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. McKibben wrote supporters,
"Breaking News: Obama Commits U.S. to Climate Talks:"
President-elect Obama just outsmarted us.
He found a way to accomplish the goal we set out for him, re-engaging the United States in the U.N. climate talks, without having to get on a plane.
Speaking via (low-carbon) video to a gathering of world leaders, Obama said that the continued existence of George Bush as president would prevent him from making the trip to Poland next month for the next round of international talks. But he'd clearly heard the call for his presence -- including the nearly 50,000 invitations you sent in from every corner of the world that came through the 350.org website.
Here's a key passage from Obama's video statement...
Although we wanted Obama to go to Poland in person, we're overjoyed by the words above - - and pleased to see that he's pioneering fossil-fuel free ways to communicate with the rest of the world!
Why is Obama's statement such a big success? Because for eight years the U.S. has been blocking genuine progress on an international climate deal. Now, in the middle of economic crisis and with plenty of other issues to address, President-elect Obama took the time to make a special statement committing the U.S. to positive engagement in the upcoming negotiations. His commitment will be seen as a major breakthrough by countries around the world.
You made that possible through your commitment to this campaign. Politicians don't say "special words" unless prodded, and your tens of thousands of invitations and letters to the editor did just that.
And now the task of injecting 350 ppm into the negotiations is front and center. Obama may not be going to Poland, but some of the crew behind 350.org will be--we'll keep you in the loop as world leaders negotiate our future. Together, we'll keep building this movement. Follow this link to check out some of the beautiful 350 actions from India, Chile, Costa Rica, and the USA:
Look for more email updates in the weeks to come to find out how we can keep this movement building.
Good work, Bill McKibben and the 350.org team
MESSAGE FROM JOHN PODESTA OF THE OBAMA-BIDEN TRANSITION TEAM
62 days. That's how much time we have left to prepare for the Obama-Biden Administration that will bring the change Americans demanded so strongly in this past election.
President-elect Obama has set a high bar for the Transition team: to execute the most efficient, organized, and transparent transfer of power in American history. As a co-Chair for the Transition, I want to tell you about a few steps we've already taken to achieve this goal.
First, we adopted the strictest ethics guidelines ever applied to any transition team. President-elect Obama pledged to change the way Washington works, and that begins with shifting influence away from special interests and restoring it to the everyday Americans who are passionate about fixing the problems facing our country.
Opening up the Transition means listening to your ideas and stories and providing a window into how the process works.
To give you a look at how we're approaching some of the nation's most pressing issues, we filmed this meeting of our Energy and Environment Policy Transition Team and interviewed team member Heather Zichal.
President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden have set an ambitious agenda, and we are going to make Change.gov a source of information, as well as a place to participate in the decisions being made about your government.
Since the decisions we're making affect all Americans, we're counting on citizens from every walk of life to get involved. You can help us right now by making sure your friends and neighbors know about www.Change.gov and give their input, too.
We're continuing to develop new ways to open up the process, and we'll keep you posted along the way.