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Tuesday, September 22, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Down To Earth

The State Of The Union

President Obama’s first State Of The Union address was a reminder that he is such a gifted speaker. Thoughtful, deliberate and persuasive, and at times acknowledging the partisan rancor that has distorted issues, he focused primarily on jobs. He defensively said change wasn’t easy. He was funny. Sure, there was the inevitable nationalism for such an occasion which draws us to one of the strongest points from his address: America must pass clean energy reform to compete in the global economy.

From the speech: I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy; and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future - because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.

Makes sense enough. A logical bipartisan effort. Yet the right was visibly annoyed---even grumbling at the mere mention of climate change---as cameras zoomed to House Minority Leader John Boehner for a reaction shot. And DTE shook our heads too but for different reasons than debased ideological squabbling.

When the President continued, he said a clean energy economy will include nuclear power plants, off-shore drilling, and investment in clean coal. Ugh. Three of our least favorite things. There’s no such thing as clean coal. PR firms spend millions touting this method as the end-all solution to climate change, not mentioning the danger of carbon capturing and safely burying the pollution it creates. Nuclear storage is even worse. As for offshore drilling, remember the hit “Drill, Baby, Drill.” These are aimed for lobbyists who have no shame and Obama is missing the point for what constitutes a smart, sustainable energy future in a grand manner.

You’re probably thinking, “Gee, DTE tell us how you really feel!?” This isn’t the hypercriticism of the more pedantic, whinier voices on the progressive side of late like Paul Krugman. In the larger scope, Obama was right on unemployment, health care, and the below excerpt from his speech was a good indicator of his thoughts:

Remember this - I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I can do it alone. Democracy in a nation of three hundred million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths. We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what's best for the next generation.

But I also know this: if people had made that decision fifty years ago or one hundred years ago or two hundred years ago, we wouldn't be here tonight. The only reason we are is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and grandchildren.

Similarly as Andrew Sullivan noted while liveblogging, this part of his final passage is why we supported and still support and will support the President “because he alone is calling us away from the cynicism, the ideology, the rhetorical poison, and the red-blue divide that keep us from the reform we desperately need.”

He certainly has his work cut out for him.

Down To Earth

The DTE blog is committed to reporting and sharing environmental news and sustainability information from across the Inland Northwest.