Inauguration 2013 speech: Obama puts energy, climate change in spotlight

During his Inauguration 2013 address Monday, President Obama made a case for clean-energy innovation and curbing climate change. His Inauguration 2013 speech recalled the views on the environment and energy policy that the president espoused in his first inaugural address.

Evan Vucci/AP/Pool
President Barack Obama shakes hands as he leaves after the ceremonial swearing-in during the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, Monday. The promise of sustainable energy sources, the president said in his inauguration 2013 address, "will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared."

In his Inauguration 2013 address Monday, President Obama may have satisfied some of those who say energy and environment issues are too-often overshadowed by the crisis du jour.  

Climate change was not far behind the Inauguration 2013 speech's top-billed issues of economic collapse, a decade of war, and the debate over health care. Roughly a thousand words in, Obama made a long-term case for energy innovation, and was unequivocal in positing environmental protection as a mandate set forth by the nation's founding fathers.

"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity," Obama said. "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

The president singled out climate-change skeptics, and critics who oppose investment of taxpayer dollars in private, clean-energy companies.  

"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," Obama said. "The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But Americans cannot resist this transition. We must lead it."

The remarks echoed sentiments Obama expressed in his first inaugural address, when the newly-elected president envisioned cars and factories powered by the sun, winds, and soil, and assured the nation it would "roll back the specter of a warming planet."

Four years later, in a speech steeped in history, Obama expanded his case for curbing climate change, linking the issue to founding principles and religious imperatives. New energy technologies will not only power new jobs and industries, the president said. It will also "preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God."   

The promise of sustainable energy sources, the president added, "will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared." That creed is likely the self-evident truth of universal equality espoused in the Declaration of Independence, with which Obama opened his speech.

It was a subtle gesture, perhaps suggesting the inclusion of environmental health and energy security alongside life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as unalienable rights enshrined by the nation's Founding Fathers.

Of equal importance was what Obama didn't say Monday. Oil, gas and coal went unmentioned. In previous speeches and campaign debates, Obama has stressed the importance of the nation's growing oil and gas supplies in his "all-of-the-above" approach to energy. 

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