Obama calls for $10B in yearly conservation funding to push back climate change

"There is no contradiction between being smart on the environment and having a strong economy. And we've got to keep it going," Obama said.
By Allen Cone and Doug G. Ware  |  Aug. 31, 2016 at 6:06 PM
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LAKE TAHOE, Nev., Aug. 31 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama rolled out new environmental initiatives during a trip to Lake Tahoe Wednesday that are intended to help states, especially those in the West, adapt to climate change.

The president spoke at the 20th Lake Tahoe Summit, an annual gathering at the famous northwest Nevada recreation area intended to spur greater protection of the natural environment.

"For thousands of years, this place has been a spiritual one," Obama said in his keynote address. "That's why we are here -- to protect this special pristine place, to keep these waters crystal clear, to keep the air as pure as the heavens, to keep alive Tahoe's spirit."

The president gave the speech en route to his native state of Hawaii, where he will spend the night.

Obama's remarks reflected new national initiatives the White House says are "built on the spirit of collaboration and innovation that first catalyzed Lake Tahoe's historic conservation efforts."

"The challenges of conservation and combating climate change are connected," Obama added. "We tend to think of climate change as if it's just something that's happening out there that we don't have any control over. But the fact is it's man-made."

The president referred to the new measures by calling for greater innovation, cooperation and private investment to help solve the climate change threat. The goal is to reach $10 billion per year from private and philanthropic sources to fund new efforts, in a country where the low estimate of climate change investment for 2016 is only about $1 billion.

The money will go to numerous nature-preserving and carbon-limiting measures, including the development of new technologies and expanding the manufacture of clean energy.

President Barack Obama waves to the crowd before delivering a speech on new conservation efforts from his administration that seek about $10 billion per year in funding to fight the effects of climate change. After speaking at the 20th Lake Tahoe summit, Obama was scheduled to travel to Hawaii. Image courtesy the White House/YouTube

"These investments that help drive down the cost of clean power, so it's finally cheaper than a lot of dirty power in some places," Obama said, noting that the effects of global warming have the potential to devastate serene natural environments, like Lake Tahoe.

"A single wildfire in a dangerously flammable Lake Tahoe basin could cause enough erosion to erase decades of progress when it comes to water quality," he said.

The administration also will allocate funds for additional use of new sensors to detect harmful algal blooms in surface waters and help with the the nation's most at-risk species.

The Environmental Protection Agency will also publish a "new playbook" for financing non-traditional wastewater projects, including green infrastructure, water conservation and energy efficiency. This will especially help address recurring drought in California and Nevada.

In Nevada, the Interior Department is providing $29.5 million to remove dead and decaying trees on public and private land around Lake Tahoe. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency and Fish and Wildlife Service are giving grants totaling more than $230 million to help Lake Tahoe's water quality.

"On a national level, we have enacted tough fuel economy standards for cars, which means you're going to be able to drive further on a gallon of gas," Obama said. "We followed that up with the first ever [emissions] standards for commercial trucks, vans and buses. As a consequence, during the first half of this year, carbon pollution hit its lowest level in a quarter-century. And, by the way, during the same time we have had the longest streak of job creation on record."

"There is no contradiction between being smart on the environment and having a strong economy. And we've got to keep it going."

Later Wednesday, Obama was set to travel to his native state of Hawaii to address leaders from the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders and the IUCN World Conservation Congress.

Obama also will travel to Midway Atoll, which is within the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii. Last week, he announced plans to create the world's largest protected marine area, more than quadrupling the size to 582,578 square miles.

Video: The White House
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