Barack Obama’s presidency has been rife with challenges since Day 1. From the rise of the Tea Party movement, which called for Obama’s impeachment for reasons that are still ambiguous at best and nonsensical at worst, to both houses of Congress becoming unified as the voice of “no” by his second term, we are surprised and also relieved by his sheer tenacity in tackling obstacles that most people would grow weary of and perhaps even just give up on.
With only 16 months left in his presidency, we wouldn’t have been surprised if Obama, as a lame duck president, gave up the fight as some others presidents have done at the same stage. Well, that’s certainly not Obama. While we may not agree with some of his more recent controversial decisions, including the Transpacific Partnership and approval of drilling in the Artic (though it is heavily regulated), his most recent charge to reduce power plant emissions and fund alternative and efficient energy sources may be one of his most challenging goals yet. It has already been met with heavy pushback, and not just from the usual culprits.
While Big Oil and the coal industries have already vowed to continue with the status quo, various states plus congressional Republicans are following suit, promising an all-out resistance campaign to weaken, delay or block new carbon limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency. We understand there will be plenty of hardship when it comes to compliance, from potential job loss to extra costs to the consumer, but we can’t be oblivious to how our carbon footprint has impacted our environment — carbon emissions have been directly linked to global warming and consequently there has been a series of international environmental disasters linked to record heat and rising sea temperatures. It’s a very simple formula that too many ignore. In the meantime, they fail to see that those jobs and higher costs many worry about now will mean little when the U.S. is hit with certain disasters that it can’t recover from. To claim ignorance or that “we’ve come this far, we should be proud” or that “jobs come first” is just the sound of rich industry leaders trying to save themselves from becoming obsolete. If similar restrictions had been placed on the whaling industry to protect whales, it might have used equivalent tactics.
We applaud the president for continuing to follow through on election promises and especially on ideas for ambitious goals that are not universally well-received. The fact that he hasn’t thrown his hands up and quit even when resistance hits the boiling point means he is surely the leader this country needs, one who doesn’t relent on the fight to achieve goals for the betterment of this country in the long run. In a country obsessed with the here and now, it’s reassuring to know at least one person is willing to go the distance for our future even though the effects will be less than noticeable immediately.