That’s what environmentalists are asking this week, after the President made combatting climate change a “legacy goal” in his second inaugural address: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.” Mother Jones has run three articles in two days gathering responses of environmental groups who are trying to gauge Obama’s intentions to issue executive orders and instructions to agencies like the EPA, since Congress seems too dysfunctional to produce meaningful legislation in the short term. Indeed, Melinda Pierce of the Sierra Club says that Congress “has become a place where good ideas go to die.” She lists several things Obama could do through executive orders and do” fairly quickly to demonstrate his commitment to the environment: denying the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, finalizing greenhouse gas rules for new power plants, writing rules for planet-warming emission from existing power plants, and improving fuel economy standards for long-haul trucks and other heavy vehicles.”
Lou Leonard, of the World Wildlife Fund, wants Obama to outline a plan for controlling runaway carbon pollution: “A sustained national conversation isn’t enough. The president should lay out the steps he can and will take to clean up our energy system, help communities prepare for climate disruption and encourage the rest of the world to ramp up action.” We don’t have time for more false starts. The environmental groups and their members are awaiting the answer to this headline’s question: “Does Obama Mean It This Time on Climate?” Let’s make him mean it; we can take the lead and he will have to follow us. Coming soon: How to mobilize for the fight of our lives.