President Barack Obama on Monday invoked sweeping themes of national unity and generational responsibility during his second inaugural address as he implored action to rein in global warming.
"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," Obama said on a brisk, sunny afternoon that capped a two-day inaugural celebration.
Now that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has set his exit, President Barack Obama will head into his second term with a new energy and pollution team -- one that better be ready for some rough treatment.
Republicans have been forced for the last two years to fume at Salazar, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson and Energy Secretary Steven Chu in advancing President Obama's energy and regulatory agenda. With new nominees headed to the Senate, they'll have the chance to take out their frustration.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who oversaw a moratorium on offshore drilling after the BP oil spill and promoted alternative energy sources throughout the nation, will step down in March.
A former U.S. senator from Colorado, Salazar ran the Interior Department throughout President Barack Obama's first term and pushed renewable power such as solar and wind and the settlement of a longstanding dispute with American Indians.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to step down drove speculation Wednesday about potential successors, including his deputy administrator, a newly-retired female former governor, and openly gay former department official already serving in the administration.
The administration was not telegraphing its possible candidates in the wake of Salazar's announcement that he would leave by the end of March. Just one potential nominee is, like Salazar, a westerner who served with Obama in the Senate: former Sen. Byron Dorgan, a Democrat from North Dakota. One possible nominee offers Obama the chance to tamp down criticism that he is stocking his second-term cabinet primarily with white men.
President Barack Obama used the final press conference of his first term on Monday to warn Republican lawmakers not to use the $16.4 trillion federal debt limit to seek new spending cuts, which he said would hurt his energy independence efforts and other national priorities.
Obama said the deadlines for spending cuts put off in the fiscal cliff bill, and an increase in the national debt ceiling, should be resolved without a government borrowing default or shutdown. "We’ve got to reach for energy independence," Obama said, along with immigration reform, job creation and gun control legislation.
There may be a new Congress in town and a new start for President Barack Obama as he commences a second term. Yet signals are getting stronger that the energy and climate debate could be stuck in the same partisan rut as last year.
Big developments on energy incentives have been expected in a possible tax reform debate. But with Obama holding back on specifics for any overhaul and fights over the debt ceiling and spending cuts looming, some are already questioning whether a major effort to close deductions and lower corporate rates will happen.
The full text of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's announcement Thursday of her resignation:
"I want to thank President Obama for the honor he bestowed on me and the confidence he placed in me four years ago this month when he announced my nomination as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. At the time I spoke about the need to address climate change, but also said: “There is much more on the agenda: air pollution, toxic chemicals and children’s health issues, redevelopment and waste-site cleanup issues, and justice for the communities who bear disproportionate risk.” As the President said earlier this year when he addressed EPA’s employees, 'You help make sure the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat are safe. You help protect the environment not just for our children but their children. And you keep us moving toward energy independence…We have made historic progress on all these fronts.' So, I will leave the EPA confident the ship is sailing in the right direction, and ready in my own life for new challenges, time with my family and new opportunities to make a difference."
The American Petroleum Institute says it doesn't believe the oil and gas industry's tax breaks are part of the negotiations between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to avert a "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax rate increases and spending cuts.
"We've received no indication that oil and natural gas industry tax deductions are being discussed as part of a fiscal cliff deal," API spokesman Carlton Carroll said.
Liberal watchdog group Checks and Balances Project said the State Department inspector general is investigating potential conflicts of interests in the department's environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline, The Hill reports.