It was with great relief and gratitude that we welcomed, at long last, a clarion call in your inaugural address to "respond to the threat of climate change" -- the greatest threat, challenge, and opportunity of our time.
We thank you for these words, because your words are powerful, and necessary for change. But words are not enough. We need action.
Mr. President, you are the first leader in our history who will be judged by what you do -- or do not do -- to protect your people from the already-begun ravages and disruptions brought about by fossil fuels.
So far, Mr. President, you are failing in the face of our earth heating up, and the damage is accelerating.
Just a few months ago, we witnessed New York and New Jersey swallowed up by our still-rising oceans. Our worsening nationwide drought, after the hottest year on record, is clear evidence that our planet is not healing, but is hurtling toward greater climate disruption.
The simple truth is that you will continue failing in the fight against climate change, as long as you continue an energy policy which treats equally the fuels that are hurting us and those that will save us. To meet your call on climate change, your "all of the above" energy policy must end.
Your support for fracking and drilling, coal mines and pipelines, continues to obliterate the progress you could be making with your administration's gas mileage rule, or your investments in renewable energy. Even if you finally issue a carbon pollution rule that addresses existing sources of pollution, it will mean nothing if you are simultaneously lighting the fuses on carbon bombs by approving the Keystone XL pipeline, Arctic drilling, or fossil fuel export projects.
You must use the power of your office and our federal lands to stop promoting fossil fuel development, and reject these projects outright.
While we recognize that a majority in the House of Representatives are clearly not on the side of science or sanity, you can and must find a way - within Congress or the power of your office - to end fossil fuel subsidies and giveaways, and put a price on all greenhouse gas pollution, so that fossil fuel executives can no longer get rich from the destabilization of our climate, and so fossil-free energy can thrive. If Congress remains in the way, you must fight to change Congress.
You must invest significantly in sustainable sources of energy as part of a plan to rapidly transition our nation from fossil fuels. And these efforts should be coupled with resources to help our cities, states and industries prepare for the damage that climate change is already bringing. (The $50 billion Sandy relief package and the drought's impacts on food prices are just two painful reminders that the cost of inaction is enormous, and untenable.)
Confronting climate change also happens to be our best opportunity to create the broad-based economic revitalization that your policies have largely failed to achieve. This is not simply an empty trope of idealistic environmentalists, it is the truth.
Mr. President, we are urging you to do as our other Illinois president did when confronted with the great moral issue of his time: to take bold, decisive action to end one great societal ill, changing the economy in the process, and usher in a new era of American freedom, security and prosperity.
This is the moment. We will support you. But you must lead and take action, starting first and foremost with your rejection of the presidential permit required by the Keystone XL pipeline, which is your decision and yours alone.