US Will Publish Annual Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Obama Issues Executive Order on Climate Change

As part of the international Open Government Partnership, which President Obama formed in 2011, he announced the US will start publishing annual totals of federal subsidies for fossil fuels.

60 countries participate in the Open Government Partnership, which encourages transparent, effective, and accountable governance.

He points to the White House We the People petitions as one of the open government initiatives of the US, where 10 million people have created petitions on topics important to them. Chile’s online “one stop shops” for government services have saved citizens 4 million hours in travel and wait time, while saving the government money. In Indonesia, citizens can report on anything from public officials requesting bribes to damaged bridges to teacher absenteeism from their cellphones and online.

His new action plan expands open data, modernizes the Freedom of Information Act, increases fiscal transparency, increases corporate transparency, advances citizen engagement and empowerment, and more effectively manages public resources.

Disclosing fossil fuel subsidies falls under “Increased Fiscal Transparency”: “The Administration will further increase the transparency of where Federal tax dollars are spent by making federal spending data more easily available on; facilitating the publication of currently unavailable procurement contract information; and enabling Americans to more easily identify who is receiving tax dollars, where those entities or individuals are located, and how much they receive.

Perhaps if people are aware of how much is spent on fossil fuels, the US and G20 will finally take the steps they promised  to phase them out, which alone would cut world carbon emissions by 13%.

Coal train

Executive Order on Climate Change

And President Obama issued an executive order today, “Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change.” It directs all federal agencies to consider climate resilience for every infrastructure project it funds.

Federal funds go to states and communities for roads, bridges, flood control and many other projects but regulations currently limit how those funds are used, preventing efforts to increase resilience.

For example, after Hurricane Irene flooded Vermont, destroying hundreds of road culverts that divert water, towns wanted to build more effective ones, but federal funds weren’t available for that.

“All of that is now going to be shaped by the awareness of climate change, and the things that can be done to make those investments produce a much more resilient society,” John  Holdren, the president’s science adviser, told the NY Times.

Also, federal agencies must consider the global warming impacts before approving major projects, such as improving ports for exporting coal, currently being fought in the northwest US. Agencies must “reform policies and federal funding programs that may, perhaps unintentionally, increase the vulnerability of natural or built systems, economic sectors, natural resources, or communities to climate change related risks.”

A task force composed of state and local leaders will advise the federal government on how best to use federal dollars to foster resilience at the local level. Six Democratic governors and 13 mayors (3 Republicans) have signed up so far.

Meanwhile, 20 corporations sent a letter to Obama, asking him to follow through on strong investments on climate preparedness because “they rely on the stability of global supply chains for growth and profitability.” They cite the impact of severe weather events on company operations.

Signatories are: Annie’s Homegrown, Aspen Skiing Company, Ben & Jerry’s, Burton Snowboards, Calvert Investments, Eastern Bank, Eileen Fisher, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Levi Strauss & Company, L’Oreal, Mars, New Belgium Brewing, Patagonia, Portland Trail Blazers, Starbucks, Stonyfield Farm, Swiss Re Americas, Symantec, Unilever and United Natural Foods.


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Comments on “US Will Publish Annual Fossil Fuel Subsidies, Obama Issues Executive Order on Climate Change”

  1. Etalgo9

    I think along with the Fossil Fuel Subsidies, we should publish alternative fuel subsidies to see if we are making progress.


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