Campaign Promises

Other/Miscellaneous -> Independent Organizations -> EPA


ItemIndependent Organizations
EPAGrade
IO-15
The Promise: "Will establish a goal of making all new buildings carbon neutral, or produce zero emissions, by 2030...will also establish a national goal of improving new building efficiency by 50 percent and existing building efficiency by 25 percent over the next decade to help us meet the 2030 goal."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "New Energy for America" dated 09/06/08.
Source: http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/edg/media/Obama_New_Energy_0804.pdf
Status:The proposed "Cap-and-Trade Bill", a two-part regulatory system in which the "cap" is a government-imposed limit on carbon emissions, and the "trade" is a government-created market to buy and sell greenhouse gas credits. This bill (H.R. 2454) was passed by the House on 06/26/09.

The above bill did not pass the Senate before the 111th Congress adjourned at the end of CY2010. Had it passed Congress and been signed into law, the above bill would have fallen far short of the "zero emissions" or efficiency goals in "all new buildings" promised by 2030.

On 10/05/09, President Obama signed Executive Order 13514 entitled: "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance." This document mandates that 100% of all new "federal" buildings meet a "zero-net-energy" goal by CY2030.

Since this promise was directed toward "all new buildings," no national goal has been formally set and this promise is considered unfulfilled.

This promise has not been fulfilled.
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IO-16
The Promise: "As President, I will set a hard cap on all carbon emissions at a level that scientists say is necessary to curb global warming - an 80% reduction by 2050...I will also commit to interim targets toward this goal in 2020, 2030, and 2040. These reductions will start immediately..."
When/Where: Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: Real Leadership for a Clean Energy Future, Portsmouth, NH , 10/08/07.
Source: http://www.asksam.com/ebooks/releases.asp?doc_handle=2147644&file=Obama-Speeches.ask&query=cap&search=yes
Status:Reductions didn't exactly start "immediately" as Candidate Obama promised. The proposed "Cap-and-Trade" initiative was included in President Obama's FY2010 budget proposal of 02/26/09, but warranted no mention in his FY2011 budget proposal.

Proposed "Cap-and-Trade" legislation (H.R. 2454) was passed by the House 06/26/09. The Senate did not take any action on this bill before the 111th Congress expired at the end of CY2010. In essence, Senate Democrats abandoned a 7-year effort to pass some version of "Cap and Trade" legislation that would have addressed climate change by regulating and taxing the carbon emissions of power plants and other companies.

With Republicans in control of the House since the 11/10 elections, it is unlikely that they will support any new version of this bill prior to the end of President Obama's first term in 01/13. This is supported by the view of many (rightly or wrongly) that the setting of artificial caps on carbon dioxide emissions will not be as effective as the employment of practical solutions such as the pursuit of natural gas by drilling into shale formations (i.e. fracking).

Draft legislation entitled the "Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011" was unveiled on 02/02/11 by Congressman Fred Uption (R-MI). One of the stated purposes of this proposed act is to prevent the EPA from "imposing a backdoor cap-and-trade tax" on industries identified as polluters that would ultimately raise the cost of gasoline, electricity, fertilizer and groceries for the American consumer.

Meanwhile, a U.S.-Finnish study revealed in 07/11 that the extent of global warming during the period CY1998-CY2008 was less than publicized by other studies. In fact, despite an increase in carbon dioxide emissions during that period, global temperatures actually dropped slightly, a condition attributed to China's increased use of coal-fired power plants that release sun-blocking sulfates.

Further, the 7th International Climate Change Conference held in Chicago, IL in 05/12 concluded that global temperatures have cyclically declined since CY2000 and that this decline will continue through at least CY2030.

The bottom line, however, is that President Obama promised to address the setting of a "hard cap" on carbon emissions "immediately" (meaning shortly after his 01/09 inauguration). This was not done.

This promise was not fulfilled.
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IO-17
The Promise: "Will increase fuel economy standards 4 percent per year ..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan for America entitled: "Blueprint for Change" dated 10/09/08.
Source: http://campaign-promises.com/wp-content/uploads/obamablueprintforchange.pdf
Status:A Presidential Memorandum signed 01/26/09 directs "increased fuel economy for model year 2011". For 2011, the standards were set at a combined average of 27.3 miles per gallon (mpg), saving an estimated 887M gallons of fuel over 2010.

On 04/01/10, a joint rule between the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was announced, setting a 35.5 mpg average for the auto industry by 2016, which the government said would further cut fuel consumption by 40%.

In 06/11, the Obama Administration presented a proposal to the auto manufacturing industry that encouraged car makers to strive for a fuel economy standard of 56.2 mpg by CY2025. The auto/light truck industry considered this goal too high to meet.

On 07/29/11, President Obama announced a compromise with the auto/truck industry by lowering the goal to 54.5 mpg by CY2025 for cars and light trucks starting with the CY2017 model year. While auto/light truck manufacturers still consider this goal challenging, they do not consider it impossible to meet.

This promise has been fulfilled.
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IO-18
The Promise: "I am committed to pursuing greater funding for the EPA."
When/Where: Candidate Obama letter to the National President, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, dated 10/20/08.
Source: http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/documents/Obama_EPA.pdf
Status:The EPA's FY2009 budget authorization was $7.633B This was supplemented by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 in the amount of $7.220B for a total FY2009 budget of $14.853B.

After FY2009, EPA funding steadily declined. Discretionary budget authority for the EPA during the ensuing years was as follows:
- FY2010: $10.281B (Actual)
- FY2011: $8.681B (Actual)
- FY2012: $8.450B (Estimate)
- FY2013: $8.344B (President's Request)

However, when the plus-up under the FY2009 ARRA is set aside, the annual appropriations for the EPA have been superior to the FY2009 baseline discretionary budget authority since President Obama assumed the presidency.

This promise has been fulfilled.
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IO-19
The Promise: "...will restore the strength of the Superfund program by requiring polluters to pay for the cleanup of contaminated sites they created."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Supporting Urban Prosperity", dated 09/11/08.
Source: http://blatantreality.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/urbanfactsheet.pdf
Status:The "Superfund" moniker came about after the passage into law of the "Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980." Under this Act, the U.S. Government was able to collect nearly $4B in taxes from the chemical and oil industries. These funds were used by the EPA to clean up some of the approximately 650 orphaned sites (toxic sites for which there is no longer an identifiable potentially responsible party (PRP)). This tax was left to expire in CY1995, at which time the fund had about $6B. This $6B ran out in CY2003 and any EPA cleanups since (one or two dozen per year) have been paid by the U.S. taxpayer through funds appropriated by Congress.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorized $600M for a Superfund Remedial program (including EPA management and oversight expenses). Reportedly, these funds either began or accelerated work at more than 50 Superfund sites in accordance with the EPA's National Priority List.

President Obama's FY2010 budget proposal called for the reinstatement of excise taxes to collect $1B to clean up the nation's most toxic sites under the EPA's Superfund program. But, the taxes were deferred "until CY2011, after the economy recovers." This didn't happen. The enacted Superfund budget for FY2010 was $1.306B.

In President Obama's FY2011 budget proposal, the funding of the Superfund based on excise tax receipts was estimated at $1.203B. In reality, the enacted appropriation amount for FY2011 under Continuing Resolution procedures was $1.413B, an increase from the FY2010 level. The requested funding for FY2012 dropped down to $1.236B of which $1.180B was enacted. For FY2013, the President's request reflects a further decrease to $1.142B.

But Congress has not yet acted on the prerequisite reinstatement of some form of excise tax on the oil and chemical industries. Even new bills such as the "Polluter Pays Restoration Act" (S.461) introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) on 03/02/11, or the "Superfund Reinvestment Act" (H.R. 1596) introduced by Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) on 04/15/11, have had little-to-no chance to get beyond the preliminary committee reviews.

Under CERCLA 106 (42 U.S.C. Section 9606), PRPs can be ordered to clean up their own toxic sites. The EPA is also empowered to fine non-compliant entities up to $25,000 per day for each non-compliant day.

Despite the absence of new excise taxes for PRPs, the EPA's Superfund accounts are just about at the funding level they should be. Consequently, this is considered a promise fulfilled.
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IO-20
The Promise: "...will reinvigorate the drinking water standards..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Source: http://blatantreality.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/environmentfactsheet.pdf
Status:The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974 remains the principal legal vehicle under which the EPA sets legal limits of contaminents in drinking water. SDWA allows individual states to set their own drinking water standards, so long as those standards meet the EPA's standards.

Reinvigoration of the nation's drinking water standards under President Obama started with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 which provided a supplementary $6B to the EPA for its Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF).

The President's FY2010 budget proposal included $3.9B for SRF, up from $1.5B enacted for FY2009. Congress ultimately appropriated $3.5B for SRF in FY2010. In FY2011, the amount proposed for SRF by President Obama is $3.3B.

On 02/02/11, the EPA announced that it will regulate the presence of perchlorate and 16 other cancer-causing chemicals (referred to as "volatile organic compounds") in drinking water, reversing a Bush Administration decision not to regulate perchlorate. The perchlorate regulation is expected to be available for public review and comment in CY2013.

The promise to reinforce drinking water standards is being fulfilled.
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IO-21
The Promise: "...will continue leadership in protecting national treasures like the Great Lakes from threats such as industrial pollution, water diversion, and invasive species."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Source: http://blatantreality.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/environmentfactsheet.pdf
Status:President Obama's FY2010 budget submission to Congress included $475M for an "interagency Great lakes restoration initiative, which will taget the most significant problems in the region, including invasive aquatic species, non-point source pollution, and contaminated sediment."

His FY2011 budget submission included another $300M for this purpose.

The promise to "continue leadership" in this area has been fulfilled.
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IO-22
The Promise: "...will call for full and stringent enforcement of all applicable laws related to Florida's water resources, including the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Protecting Florida's Waterways" dated 10/16/08.
Source: http://news.caloosahatchee.org/docs/Obama_On_Florida_Waters.pdf
Status:In 01/10, the EPA issued a proposed rule establishing nutrient criteria for Florida's water resources. In doing so, the EPA committed to issue a final rule by 10/15/10 for lakes and flowing waters. The final rule entitled "Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida's Lakes and Flowing Waters" was published in the Federal Register on 12/06/10.

The final rule for Florida's estuaries and coastal waters is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register not later than 11/15/12.

This promise has been fulfilled.
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IO-23
The Promise: "...will encourage federal partnership with the state of Florida and local municipalities in researching new and innovative ways to insure the health and safety of Florida's waters."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Protecting Florida's Waterways" dated 10/16/08.
Source: http://news.caloosahatchee.org/docs/Obama_On_Florida_Waters.pdf
Status:More than three years into President Obama's first term in office, there is no sign of any new "federal partnership" with Florida to protect Florida's waters.

This promise has not been fulfilled.
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IO-24
The Promise: "...will establish policies to help high-growth regions like Northeast Florida with the challenges of managing their water supplies...will restore better federal financing for water and wastewater treatment infrastructure so we can protect the St. John's..."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Protecting Florida's Waterways" dated 10/16/08.
Source: http://news.caloosahatchee.org/docs/Obama_On_Florida_Waters.pdf
Status:The St. John's River Water Management District (SJRWMD), operating largely under Florida's Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Act of 1987, and in partnership with the City of Jacksonville, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and other local government partners, is implementing a $700M plan on reclaimed water projects. Under a River Accord signed in 07/06, SJRWMD is also spending $150M on water reuse cost-share projects over a 10-year period.

The goals of SJRWMD's efforts are to reduce point source (wastewater and industrial discharges) pollution, reduce nonpoint source (stormwater) pollution, reduce bacteria in the tributaries, restore degraded aquatic habitat, increase water quality compliance and enforcement, and increase public awareness of river issues.

More than 20 reclaimed water projects are expected to begin or be completed by CY2014. It is estimated that they will remove from the St. John's River approximately 1.6M pounds of nitrogen per year and 32M gallons of wastewater per day (or 10B gallons of wastewater per year by CY2025.

And all this without direct federal involvement. There is no sign of any "policies" established by the Obama Administration to help Northeast Florida manage its water supplies.

Federal financing assistance for the St. John's River Water Management District (STRWMD) has been minimal during the Obama Administration. For FY2010, federal funding accounted for only 0.7% of the STRWMD's budget of $254M. For the FY2011-2012 budget cycle, federal funding accounted for only 0.4% of the reduced STRWMD budget of $204M.

This promise is not being fulfilled.
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IO-25
The Promise: "...amending the Clean Water Act to clarify that it protects isolated wetlands."
When/Where: Obama Plan: "Supporting the Rights and Traditions of Sportsmen" dated 08/06/08.
Source: http://obama.3cdn.net/84b2062fc4a5114715_ftxamv9ot.pdf
Status:The Clean Water Restoration Act of 2009 (S. 787), introduced by Senator Russel Feingold (D-WI) on 04/02/09, was reported on by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on 06/18/09. This proposed bill would have clarified that the Clean Water Act includes protection of the nation's wetlands. This legislation was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar on 12/10/10 where it sat when the 111th Congress expired at the end of CY2010.

No similar legislation was introduced during the 112th Congress.

This promise has not been fulfilled.
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IO-26
The Promise: "...will work to provide low-income communities the legal ability to challenge policies and processes that adversely affect the environmental health of low-income and minority communities."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Source: http://blatantreality.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/environmentfactsheet.pdf
Status:Executive Order 12898 signed by President Clinton on 02/11/94 directs federal agencies to develop environmental justice strategies to address environmental effects on minority and low-income populations.

In 08/11, the heads of 17 government departments and agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898. While this MOU ultimately helps low-income communities to more effectively engage with Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) members on environmental justice issues, no proof can be found substantiating that any work has been done by the Obama Administration to provide low-income and minority communities the "legal ability" to challenge what they deem to be negative environmental health policies.

This promise has not been fulfilled.
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IO-27
The Promise: "...will work to strengthen the EPA Office of Environmental Justice and expand the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, which provides non-profit organizations across the nation with valuable resources to address local environmental problems."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Source: http://blatantreality.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/environmentfactsheet.pdf
Status:In FY2009, the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program was funded at the $1M level. The program was not expanded beyond the $1M level for FY2010 thru FY2012 respectively.

This promise has not been fulfilled.
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IO-28
The Promise: "...the Environmental Protection Agency will strictly monitor and regulate pollution from large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)...with fines for those who violate tough air and water quality standards."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: Promoting a Healthy Environment" dated 10/08/08.
Source: http://blatantreality.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/environmentfactsheet.pdf
Status:Under the Clean Water Act, an Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) is a facility in which livestock or poultry are housed in confinement for a total of 45 days or more in any 12-month period and crops are not grown over the facility for feeding/grazing purposes. A CAFO is an AFO with more than 1,000 animals. A facility with 300-999 animals may be classified as CAFOs if pollutants are discharged from a manmade conveyance or are discharged directly into waters near the animal housing area. Facilities with fewer than 300 animals may also be classified as CAFOs if the EPA or State permitting authority determines that the facility contributes to water pollution.

On 05/28/10, the EPA released its guidance document entitled "Implementation Guidance on CAFO Regulations - CAFOs That Discharge or Are Proposing to Discharge" (EPA-833-R-10-006). While this document is not legally enforceable, it does provide clarification of regulatory requirements.

As part of the EPA's 2008-2010 CAFO enforcement strategy, a CAFO that discharges pollutants under the Clean Water Act must have a State/National Polution Discharge Elimination System (S/NPDES) Permit. EPA regulations also require permits for CAFOs that "propose" to discharge at some point in the future, whereas CAFOs that have the "potential" to discharge pollutants do not require a permit.

Sanctions for CAFO S/NPDES permit violations include severe civil and criminal penalties for each day of violation. Basic monetary penalties could be up to $32,500 per day. Stiffer criminal penalties of up to $50,000 per day or three years' imprisonment, or both, could be levied for negligent or knowing violations of the Act. A fine of up to $250,000 or 15 years' imprisonment (or both) could be levied if a violation is considered "knowing endangerment" and leads to the imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury of another person.

This promise has been fulfilled.
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IO-29
The Promise: "...will work with my scientific advisors to develop a strategy to protect marine life and ensure that the mechanisms we choose to implement that strategy are effective. My administration will ensure that sound science -- not ideology or profits -- guides federal environmental policy."
When/Where: Candidate Obama response to Greenpeace letter dated 12/03/07.
Source: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/Global/usa/binaries/2010/4/obama-questionnaire-response.pdf
Status:On 06/12/09, President Obama unveiled his "Ocean Protection Plan," dovetailing the standards set by President Bush in CY2006. In doing so, President Obama announced the creation of an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force to be led by his chief environmental advisor, Ms. Nancy Sutley, to come up with a recommended policy/strategy for protecting and restoring "the health of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources."

The Task Force issued its interim report on 09/10/09. This interim report recommends (1) a national policy emphasizing the importance of our oceans, (2) the establishment of an interagency National Ocean Council, and 9 categories for action to manage the largest issues facing our oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes. Among these proposals is coastal and marine "spatial planning" as the answer to protecting marine life.

The final Task Force recommendations report was released by the White House on 07/19/10. With it, President Obama signed Executive Order 13547 entitled "Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes." That Executive Order establishes the policy for the United States to "use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes, and enhance humanity's capacity to understand, respond, and adapt to a changing global environment."

This promise has been fulfilled.
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