President Barack Obama described climate change as an “urgent” problem during his final State of the Union speech, hailing the recent 195-nation agreement signed in Paris to combat rising global temperatures. The president’s comments come just a month after he signed a bill that will speed up the permitting process for new oil pipelines.
"When we lead nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change — that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our children," Obama said Tuesday, before criticizing those who “dispute the science around climate change”.
Last month, while the Paris climate accord was still being hashed out, Obama signed legislation that will streamline approvals and environmental reviews of new pipelines, according to a report by DeSmogBlog. The measure — which was buried in a five-year bill to fund transportation infrastructure projects — was lauded by trade association groups like the Chamber of Commerce, which said in a statement it will “make our system swift but safe.”
Though Obama rejected the politically controversial Keystone XL pipeline, his administration has largely been supportive of fossil fuel production. As the Financial Post reported in November, the United States has seen construction of 12,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines since 2010.
Obama’s administration has also backed plans to expand drilling off the Atlantic coast. In 2012, a senior White House adviser touted the fact the administration “has approved hundreds of permits for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.”
According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, Obama’s political campaigns have raised over $1.8 million from individuals employed by the oil and gas industry.