Incredibly, when President Obama talks about climate change and renewable energy at tonight’s State of the Union address, he will be the second president to even mention it – the first was Bill Clinton in 1997.
Clearly, Obama plans to emphasize the subject because a solar entrepreneur has been asked to sit with Michelle Obama.
The lucky person – chosen to represent small business owners – is Mark Davis, who owns a Washington DC solar installation firm. WDC Solar trains low-income individuals to install solar panels, and while they place systems on roofs across the city, the emphasis is on low income neighborhoods. There’s no upfront cost to homeowners, thanks to the leasing business model. This year, he plans to expand to New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
On the Republican side, the coal industry will be represented. A coal miner will be a guest of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). When a Kentucky coal mine closed, he lost his job, and is currently employed removing equipment at other closed mines. A president of a local labor union will sit with Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) to show how Obama’s "war on coal" is leaving people without work.
As humorist Andy Borowitz says, Obama is "celebrating the last time he ever has to talk to these bastards."
Before last year’s State of the Union, Oxfam released a major report on income inequality, and in 2014, protesters of the Keystone pipeline were there to greet him. Besides rejecting the pipeline, the environmental community wanted Obama to set climate targets, ban oil drilling in the Arctic, renew renewable energy tax credits, and reduce emissions from fossil extraction on our public lands. In 2013, an ad ran before and after the speech, urging Congress to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.
The fight against using our public lands for fossil extraction is just getting into high gear now.
How Presidents have talked about environmental concerns in State of the Union addresses since 1989: