“I’m still full of energy [and] on a purposeful path to enforce our nation’s environmental laws,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told 10,000 climate and clean energy activists at the Power Shift 2011 grassroots training conference in Washington, DC. We have restored climate science to its rightful place, she said at the outset of her April 16 keynote address, and “we are using that science to take action on climate change.” She challenged her audience to bring pressure to bear against powerful anti-environmental interests: President Obama is “our last line of defense against people doing everything they can and spending every dollar they can to stop EPA from protecting your health, protecting our planet,” she said. “But what I want you to understand: he’s the last line of defense. The first line of defense is you. … You need to know that EPA is counting on PowerShift. President Obama is counting on PowerShift. Most important, millions of Americans and their kids are counting on PowerShift.” Video and transcript below.
Climate Science Watch attended and participated in Power Shift 2011, an extraordinary gathering at the Washington Convention Center of organized, highly-energized young citizens who are on their own “purposeful path,” to use U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Jackson’s phrase.
For more on Power Shift 2011 see also:
Power Shift 2011 in Washington, DC, April 15-18: “Every Generation Needs a New Revolution”
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s PowerShift 2011 keynote talk:
Jackson led off with this, placing climate change law enforcement front and center as her first issue (transcription by CSW):
It’s great to be back with you this year. I was here two years ago, and when I came, it was one of my very first stops as head of the EPA. In 2009 I was a brand-new Administrator, I was pinching myself, I was learning the ropes, I was full of energy. I was ready to embark on a purposeful path to enforce our nation’s environmental laws. I was proud to be able to give voice to the millions of Americans, young and old, rich and poor, of every ethnicity, who demand clean air, clean water, and a safe place to live.
So I’m here, two years later. It’s a little bit different – new Congress, a different Washington. The Washington Post had a lottery to guess which Cabinet member would be the first to be called before a hearing of the new Congress. Good news, I guess – I lost – but I have testified before Congress more than any other Obama Administration Cabinet member. … I’m still full of energy. I’m still ready to embark on a purposeful path to enforce our nation’s environmental laws. … That’s right, PowerShift. I am in no ways tired. I’m full of energy. I feel the power. I feel you.
Let’s take a minute to look at a little bit of the road over the past two years. We restored science to its rightful place as the backbone of everything the Environmental Protection Agency does. And that includes the science of climate change. We are using that science to take action on climate change. After too many years of delay and obstruction we put forward an Endangerment Finding on greenhouse gas pollution. And unlike some presidents, when we sent our Endangerment Finding to the White House, President Obama opened our email.
Building on that, we put in place the nation’s first-ever standards for greenhouse gases with our clean car program. We set the first requirements for greenhouse gas monitoring. We put forward the first emission standards for large sources of carbon pollution. …
We’ve demonstrated that which we all know in our hearts: that there is no difference and choice to be made between a healthy economy and a clean and healthy environment. President Obama says that, he knows that, and we’ve been very happy to prove him right. Think about clean cars in this country. President Obama brought together automakers, and labor, and citizens like you, environmentalists who care deeply about the future of our planet. We worked together to make a rule to limit greenhouse gas pollution from cars.
Then she turned her attention to the powerful political and corporate forces that have aligned to prevent EPA from carrying out its mission and responsibility under the Clean Air Act to implement scientifically based climate change regulation:
I know you follow the efforts to stop EPA from setting standards for greenhouse gas pollution. And if you aren’t following, I need you to follow, PowerShift. … We did clean cars, but now they’re trying to roll back the very Act that we used to make cars cleaner in America. And we have more work to do, to make cars cleaner, to cut down on their greenhouse gas emissions, to ensure that … our fellow Americans continue to have the opportunity that goes along with environmental innovation.
President Obama has made clear that he is not going to hand over the health and prosperity of the American people to big polluters. … He’s our last line of defense against people doing everything they can and spending every dollar they can to stop EPA from protecting your health, protecting our planet.
But what I want you to understand: he’s the last line of defense. The first line of defense is you. Our first line of defense is you. Young people who are organized – obviously organized – and active – obviously active. The young people who came together this weekend for one of the largest grassroots trainings ever held. …
When I spoke here two years ago I told you that EPA needs PowerShift. That is even more the case today than it was back then. You have seen the news and you have seen the pundits. You have heard people using words like ‘de-fund’ with respect to EPA, and making bold claims about so-called EPA power grabs. You know that this is one of the most embattled times in EPA’s history. You know the vast influence of the groups and individuals threatening to roll back EPA’s efforts.
So you need to know that EPA is counting on PowerShift. President Obama is counting on PowerShift. Most important, millions of Americans and their kids are counting on PowerShift. Because the attacks being aimed at EPA aren’t going to be felt just by EPA. When you attack the EPA, the effects will be to the American people.
The protections we need don’t happen by accident. Environmentalism is not a spectator sport. Without an EPA and groups like PowerShift we will lose clean air and clean water. … It’s up to us to ensure that the fate of our health and our environment and our economy is shaped by the American people and not big polluters. That’s what PowerShift is all about.
So, in the coming period we’ll see if the Power Shift coalition can bring effective grassroots political pressure to bear. And that likely will have to include keeping up pressure on Obama to stand up as strongly for climate change law enforcement as his EPA head appears ready to do.
A few earlier posts:
MacCracken federal court Declaration defending EPA Endangerment Finding