Obama delivers Climate Change speech at Georgetown University.

Obama delivers Climate Change speech at Georgetown University.

The Obama climate change speech as “ambitious” ““ as the New York Times characterized the plan ““ was delivered at Georgetown University this afternoon. From Mark Landler and John Broder, at the NY Times.

… Mr. Obama said he would use his executive powers to require reductions in the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the nation’s power plants.

That was the centerpiece of a three-part plan that includes new federal spending to advance renewable energy technology, as well as spending to protect cities and states from the ravages of storms and droughts that are exacerbated by a changing climate.

In short, the speech didn’t provide any surprises, which itself was no surprise. There are certainly some important measures, but not everyone would agree with the “ambitious” description. And though Keystone KX Pipeline actually was mentioned, context is important. Here’s what Mr. Obama said, via Think Progress: (emphasis added)

“˜I know there’s been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline “” the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. The State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done.

But I do want to be clear. Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.’

So, if you can subtract from somewhere else, the amount of “carbon pollution” KXL will produce (and exactly what that means, what will be measured, is unclear at this point), then it’s okay to build. Across aquifers and near lakes and close to backyards and school yards, and through carefully preserved woodlands. Are real and potential spills considered in measuring “carbon pollution”?

Prior to the speech, Sam Stein, at Huffington, wrote: “Obama: Keystone XL Should Not Be Approved If It Will Increase Greenhouse Gas Emissions.”

President Barack Obama will ask the State Department not to approve the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline unless it can first determine that it will not lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions, a senior administration official told The Huffington Post.

And in the NY Times article:

A senior administration official who briefed reporters on the president’s climate plan said Monday that the decision on the Keystone pipeline was on a separate track at the State Department and would not be announced for months.

By the way, at one point, Obama went after climate change deniers, including the line: “We don’t have time for the flat earth society.” I can agree with that. I hope that we also don’t have time for pretending tar sands is an acceptable fuel.

But for the good stuff that’s there, good for Obama. Step up, Democratic Electeds. Republican Electeds … on well, never mind.

You can see the President’s Climate Action Plan here, and the related Fact Sheet here.