You mean jobs from evil fracking? Or does he mean jobs from Keystone? Maybe enviros will clarify and let us know which of these they’ll let Obama actually enact. (See the last line of the excerpt below) Rolling Stone:
Despite the congressional opposition, do you feel the Obama administration has made inroads in the climate fight?
The thing I’m proudest of that we were able to get done in the first term was the Recovery Act. It had $90 billion in clean-energy programs. We had a lot of money going into research and development, and also tax credits for wind and solar energy. Republicans say to me, “That’s not government’s role,” and I say, “Why in the devil do you think we have the investment tax credit you guys get for drilling for oil? How did that start?” The reason it started was six, seven decades ago, we didn’t have the technology to know how many dry wells you had to dig before you hit a gusher, so we rewarded people for going out and exploring. We still spend $4 billion a year on that – and they don’t even need it anymore. And yet they fight us on renewable-energy tax credits.
In terms of conservation, we’ve doubled the fuel-economy standards, which is going to save hundreds of millions of barrels of oil and about $1.7 trillion over time – without, basically, any Republican support. In the meantime, also, there has been at least a near-term boom in terms of natural gas. Theoretically, it would be nice not to have any carbon fuels. But natural gas is a hell of a lot less polluting. So in this budget, we’re continuing to push for the transition from coal-fired plants to natural-gas electric plants. If you moved the trucking fleet in this nation to natural-gas-run vehicles, you’d save hundreds of millions of dollars and cut greenhouse-gas emissions. And you’d reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
But it’s been hard to get our arms around, with this Congress, what you know you should be doing. You should be attacking the carbon emissions, period, and whether it’s cap-and-trade or carbon tax or whatever, that’s the realm in which we should be playing. In the meantime, the president is going to use his executive authority to, essentially, clean up the bad stuff, encourage the good stuff and promote private industry moving in that direction. If we had a different Congress, I think you’d see a more aggressive emissions legislation.
You mentioned a carbon tax. Is the Obama administration going to follow the lead of China and propose such a policy?
The truth is, right now, no, because we know it will go nowhere. Look, one of the things we are doing, and the president is asking me to kind of get ahead of here, is that we have a real chance, both in this hemisphere and with China, to enter into joint ventures on renewable energy and on cleaner-burning natural gas. Let me give you an example: The Chinese are building something like one new coal-fired plant a week – a week. So pick the biggest coal-fired plant you know around here that’s spewing pollution, and they’re building them every week, and they’ve been doing that for the last six or seven years.
The Chinese have figured out that they have a giant environmental problem. Folks in Beijing, some days, literally can’t breathe. Over a million Chinese die prematurely every year because of air pollution. And the pollution generated in China is choking us, not just the Chinese. One of the examples I used on the campaign trail last year was that after the Japanese tsunami, we had huge chunks of cement, chunks of piers, washing up on the beach in Oregon. If the current can carry that stuff across the ocean, imagine what’s coming across in the atmosphere. So we have a great opportunity here to figure out how we can not only begin to wean ourselves off of carbon-based fuels but wean the world off of them too. It’s just a gigantic opportunity, and it produces a boatload of jobs. There are going to be 600,000 new jobs out there in the gas industry over the next 10 to 12 years.