Republican response to Obama throwing down the gauntlet on climate and energy was weak, wholly inadequate

Blog, Disruption, Tom Harris

Americans who know anything about the crucially important role energy plays in human affairs should be very afraid of the direction President Barack Obama is taking the United States. In clear, unambiguous language, he told the nation in his State of the Union address exactly where his dangerous quest to control the planet’s climate is headed. Obama delivered nothing short of an ultimatum to Congress, a direct threat to the country’s prosperity and fundamental way of life, when he said:

obama-small President Barack Obama delivering his State of the Union address on February 12, 2013 in which he warned Congress to deliver climate legislation or he will impose policy by fiat.

“If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Note 1: When the President said “pollution”, he was really speaking of the benign gas carbon dioxide which he erroneously blames for more frequent and intense heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods, and even “Superstorm Sandy”, as he calls the level 1 (lowest) hurricane.

Note 2: When the President said he is going to “speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy”, he really means he is going to continue to kill coal as America’s largest source of electricity (currently 50% of their electric power generation) in favour of hopelessly inadequate wind and solar power.

Obama dedicated 630 words in his address (see * below for that whole section) to explaining his rationale for such extreme actions and his relentless determination to lead the country to energy suicide, no matter what Congress says.

If Obama fulfils this threat, his legacy will be one of mass unemployment and millions of Americans joining the billions throughout the world already mired in energy poverty. In the meantime, climate will continue to change as it always has with the climatic impact of America’s sacrifice being too small to even be measured.

President Obama’s frighteningly aggressive stance demanded a direct, no-holds-barred response from Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio who gave the GOP’s response to the address.  Instead, Rubio practically ignored the issue, never even mentioning the word “climate”. Here is Rubio’s feeble 137 word response to the Obama energy challenge:

rubio Republican Senator Marco Rubio gave a weak response to President Obama throwing down the gauntlet on the nation’s energy policy.

“When we point out that no matter how many job-killing laws we pass, our government can’t control the weather – he accuses us of wanting dirty water and dirty air.

“One of the best ways to encourage growth is through our energy industry. Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called “clean energy” companies like Solyndra, let’s open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration. And let’s reform our energy regulations so that they’re reasonable and based on common sense. If we can grow our energy industry, it will make us energy independent, it will create middle class jobs and it will help bring manufacturing back from places like China.”

This is a wholly inadequate reaction to Obama throwing down the gauntlet on the nation’s energy policy. Rubio must understand that, with a President who is working to destroy coal, America’s largest and most important energy source, nothing less than a candid, factual, point-by-point correction of the address was urgently required.

Rubio was, of course, completely right when he said,

“On foreign policy, America continues to be indispensable to the goal of global liberty, prosperity and safeguarding human rights. The world is a better place when America is the strongest nation on earth. But we can’t remain powerful if we don’t have an economy that can afford it.”

He should have added that, without plentiful, inexpensive and safe energy, America will collapse into poverty and eventually chaos and failure. And with it, will go Canada and most of the free world. Then, the “next chapter in the amazing story of the greatest nation man has ever known”, as Rubio correctly described the United States, may be its last.


Compare Rubio’s weak response above to Obama’s fearless but reckless energy challenge as extracted from the State of the Union Address:

“Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. We need to make those investments. And today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy.

“After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.

“But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Now, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.

“Now, the good news is, we can make meaningful progress on this issue while driving strong economic growth. I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.

“And four years ago, other countries dominated the clean energy market and the jobs that came with it. We’ve begun to change that. Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year – let’s drive costs down even further. As long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we.

“In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. We need to encourage that. That’s why my Administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits. That’s got to be part of the all of above plan. But I also want to work with this Congress to encourage the research and technology that helps natural gas burn even cleaner and protects our air and water.

“In fact, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long. I’m also issuing a new goal for America: let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. We’ll work with the states to do it. Those states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make that happen.”

America, and indeed the whole free world, desperately needs a strong Republican response to this serious threat.


Tom Harris is Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition, and a Research Fellow to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.