Obama's Inaugural Address Cheered by Urbanists and Environmentalists

Matt Bevilacqua found much to cheer in the 'renewed focus on urbancentric topics' that President Obama delivered in his second inaugural address. Climate change, immigration, and inequality were among the speech's primary topics.
January 22, 2013, 5am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"During this morning’s inauguration ceremony, Obama touched upon several domestic topics — including investments into sustainable industries — that should have urbanists and urban dwellers perking up their ears," says Bevilacqua. "Though light on specifics, the issues spotlighted today will likely set at least part of the executive agenda for the next four years."

He identified immigration as one issue given attention by Obama that could have significant policy implications for cities. "In a much more direct way than at the last inauguration," notes Bevilacqua, "Obama took a pro-immigration stance, casting it as a workforce development issue."

By far though, the specific issue getting the most attention in his address was climate change, answering questions about whether the issue was among the President's priorities for his second term, write Richard W. Stevenson and John M. Broder in The New York Times. "President Obama made addressing climate change the most prominent policy vow of his second Inaugural Address on Monday, setting in motion what Democrats say will be a deliberately paced but aggressive campaign built around the use of his executive powers to sidestep Congressional opposition."

“'We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,' Mr. Obama said, at the start of eight full sentences on the subject, more than he devoted to any other specific area. '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.'”

Stevenson and Broder previewed some of the administrative maneuvers the President plans to utilize to avoid going through Congress. These include: "[reducing] emissions from power plants, [increasing] the efficiency of home appliances and [having] the federal government itself produce less carbon pollution."

Another good sign for environmentalists: Vice President Joe Biden made a surprise appearance at the Green Inaugural Ball, to say thanks and declare that his "green dream" is that "we finally face up to climate change."

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Published on Monday, January 21, 2013 in Next City
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