This piece was guest-posted by Rosamund Hunter, a Nation intern and freelance writer based in New York City.
The Obama administration has employed executive powers to combat terrorism and to ban federal money from being spent on abortion. Yet when it comes to protecting the environment and lowering greenhouse gas emissions, Obama has not seized the opportunity to act without Congressional support. And, act, he could.
In his recent article in The Nation, "The Big Green Buy," Christian Parenti lays out a plan that the administration could easily implement—without the need for comprehensive climate-change legislation. With Republicans set on blocking any major environmental bill and moderate Democrats ready to protect big coal and oil, this may be Obama’s only path to changing the direction of America’s lackluster commitment to environmentalism.
Parenti reports that federal, state and local government make up 38 percent of the annual GDP and will spend a whopping $3.6 trillion this year. Moreover, the federal government is the world’s largest consumer of energy. The government can use its spending power to create new markets for clean energy. "If government bought green, it would drive down marketplace prices sufficiently that the momentum toward green tech would become self-reinforcing and spread to the private sector," Parenti writes.
So, with the energy bill dead in the water, why won’t the president use August to make a big statement about climate change and build the market for green jobs?
Take action and implore the administration to use its legal powers to dramatically change course. Write to President Obama asking him to enforce Executive Order 13514, which requires federal agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase efficiency and decrease waste, and to create enforcement mechanisms to back his executive order.
Contact Martha Johnson, Administrator of the General Services Administration, an independent agency that manages basic functioning of federal agencies. Tell Johnson to set ambitious goals for greener, cleaner buildings and vehicles and offer your support for the steps the agency has already taken.
Call on Congress to pass the Electric Vehicles Deployment Act of 2010. Read more about the bill and urge your representative to support this act.
And lastly, remind the Environmental Protection Agency that the Clean Air Act confers the authority to enact sweeping regulations that could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tell the agency to follow its mission to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment—and to stop backing down in the face of corporate-backed legislators.
With sufficient pressure, the Obama administration can permanently change the course of how the United States approaches energy and global warming, and can make the earth a safer, cleaner place for generations to come.