Energy, Climate Change
and Our Environment

The President has taken unprecedented action to build the foundation for a clean energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change, and protect our environment.

Our Environment

The Obama Administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe, water we drink, and land that supports and sustains us. From restoring ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay and the Everglades, to reducing mercury pollution from power plants, we are bringing together Federal agencies to tackle America’s greatest environmental challenges.

Recovery Act Investments in our Environment

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The Recovery Act included unprecedented funding for programs and projects that will protect the environment.  The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior alone oversee nearly $11 billion in Recovery Act funding for projects that vary from green job training to marine habitat restoration to water quality improvements.  These investments are supporting technological advances in science and health and improving environmental protection and infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits for Americans. 

Protecting Our Oceans

President Obama has established the first comprehensive National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes.  America's oceans and coastal regions support tens of millions of jobs and contribute trillions of dollars a year to the national economy.  The National Ocean Policy helps us prioritize our efforts and resources to address the most critical issues facing our oceans and establishes a comprehensive, collaborative, regionally based planning process to ensure healthy ocean and coastal resources for the many communities and economies that rely on and enjoy them.  

Explore The National Oceans Policy

Supporting Land Conservation

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When he signed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, President Obama marked the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation, designating more than 2 million acres of federal wilderness, thousands of miles of trails, and protecting more than 1,000 miles of rivers.  The President also used his authority under the Antiquities Actto designate Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, as a national monument, protecting a site of historic significance for slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military.

President Obama established the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to work with the American people to develop a community-based conservation and recreation agenda for the 21st century.  Through this initiative, the Administration is opening up access to millions of acres for recreation, making historic investments in restoring critical landscapes, and supporting an outdoor economy that includes approximately 9 million jobs and $1 trillion in economic activity.

Prioritizing Clean Water

The Administration is taking comprehensive action to ensure the integrity of the waters Americans rely on every day for drinking, swimming, and fishing, and that support farming, recreation, tourism and economic growth.   We have issued draft Federal guidance to clarify which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act nationwide; launched innovative partnerships and programs to improve water quality and water efficiency; and created initiatives to revitalize communities and economies by restoring rivers and critical watersheds. The Administration has also proposed to modernize the guidelines that govern Federal water resource planning, calling for water resources projects based on sound science, improved transparency, and consideration of the variety of community benefits of projects. 

Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Mountaintop Coal Mining

Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by EPA, the Department of the Interior and the Army Corps of Engineers on June 11, 2009, Federal agencies are taking action to minimize adverse environmental and health impacts of mountaintop coal mining.

Reducing Air Pollution

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Curbing Vehicle Pollution

The Obama Administration is aggressively working to reduce pollution in the air we breathe. We have proposed historic fuel economy standards that will double the fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks by 2025, saving consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump and eliminating 6 billion metric tons of carbon pollution.  The Administration has also finalized the first-ever national fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards for commercial trucks, vans, and buses built in 2014-2018, which are projected to save more than 500 million barrels of oil and an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs.

Cleaning up Toxic Air Pollution

The Administration established the first-ever national limits for mercury and other toxic air pollution from power plants, which will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms each year.  This rule follows a series of EPA actions to reduce emissions from power plants and other large emitters, including a rule to cut soot and smog-forming pollution from power plants that create health problems downwind, and rules to limit mercury and other pollution for the largest sources of industrial air pollution, such as cement plants, industrial boilers, and waste incinerators.

Restoring our Treasured Great Ecosystems


  • Restoring the Gulf of Mexico
    • President Obama established the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force to coordinate the long-term conservation and restoration of the Gulf Coast and to address the decades-long decline of the Gulf's natural systems. The Task Force, chaired by U.S. EPA, delivered its final strategy to the President in December 2011. Work is underway to fulfill the goals of this strategy -- for example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has committed more than $150 million to improve water quality, increase water conservation, and enhance wildlife habitat in the Gulf.

      Learn More About This Initiative

  • Restoring California's Bay Delta
    • The Administration and the State of California are working to ensure a coordinated approach to water issues to achieve a sustainable water supply for California and a healthy ecosystem. The Administration has established an interim Federal action plan to restore the California Bay Delta and reinvigorate the Federal-state partnership to address California’s water-supply and environmental challenges.

  • Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration
    • The Administration is protecting and restoring the environment in Chesapeake Bay communities throughout the 64,000-square-mile watershed and in its thousands of streams, creeks and rivers. EPA has developed a “pollution diet” that describes the pollution reductions needed to restore America’s largest estuary. Federal agencies have outlined near-term measures to accomplish key restoration goals, including recovering land and water habitat, sustaining fish and wildlife, conserving land, and increasing public access.

      Learn More About This Initiative

  • Great Lakes Restoration
    • The Administration created the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and invested more than $1 billion to restore the Great Lakes ecosystem, the most significant investment in Great Lakes restoration in decades. Led by EPA, the initiative has removed more than 1 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment and protected or restored more than 20,000 acres of essential habitat.

      Learn More About This Initiative

  • Everglades Restoration
    • The Administration has invested more than $1.4 billion to restore the Everglades, reinvigorating Federal leadership to jump start construction projects and protect essential habitat on working lands. In partnership with the State of Florida, progress includes restoring more than 3,000 acres of the floodplains along the Kissimmee River, breaking ground on the first mile of bridging for the Tamiami Trail and starting implementation of key components of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

Working Toward Environmental Justice

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The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that communities overburdened by pollution – particularly minority, low-income and indigenous communities – have the opportunity to enjoy the health and economic benefits of a clean environment. After more than a decade of inaction, the Administration reconvened the Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group and engaged more than 100 environmental justice leaders at a White House forum.  Federal agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding formally committing to environmental justice, and released strategies for integrating environmental justice into federal decision-making and programs in areas such as transportation, labor, health services, housing and others.

Supporting Sustainable Communities

The Administration created the historic Partnership for Sustainable Communities to break down traditional silos among the Federal agencies for housing, transportation, and environmental protection.  Through 2011, this partnership announced more than $1.7 billion in funding to support resilient economies, healthy environments and quality of life in more than 550 communities and regions across the country.

Modernizing the National Environmental Policy Act

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The Administration is modernizing and reinvigorating the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) to help ensure transparency, public engagement and accountability in Federal decisions about actions that may affect the quality of the environment.  This includes an initiative to improve the quality and efficiency of Federal environmental reviews to protect the health of communities, support a strong American economy, and engage Americans in decisions that will impact their environment. 

Reducing Global Emissions of Mercury

The United States played a leading role in crafting an agreement among more than 140 nations to negotiate a legally binding treaty to reduce mercury emissions globally, which is scheduled to be finalized in 2013.  The Administration's actions to reduce toxic mercury pollution in the U.S. - including establishing the first-ever mercury standards for power plants -- give the U.S. additional credibility to lead in this global effort to improve public health.

Learn More about the Secure Energy Future Blueprint