President Obama took credit Tuesday for surging growth in solar and wind power during his seven years in office, while hinting of new efforts to limit pollution from oil and gas operations.
Obama framed the expansion of renewable energy as an economic success story, but one that happens to pay dividends for the health of the planet.
“Even if the planet wasn’t at stake; even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record — until 2015 turned out even hotter — why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?” Obama asked.
He called for stepping up investment in communities hurt by the decline of fossil fuels, alluding to plans announced last year to expand jobs and training in coal states.
“Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels,” Obama said. He said his administration also would push to “change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”
In the coming days, the White House is expected to announce a proposed regulation to limit emissions of greenhouse gases from oil and gas operations on federal land.
Obama suggested that the world had moved beyond the debate over climate change, despite a large caucus of skeptics in Congress.
“Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it,” he said. “You’ll be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.”