This is historical material “frozen in time”. The website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.

Search form

President Barack Obama views Bear Glacier which has receded 1.8 miles in the roughly 100 years that have been recorded, during a boat tour to see firsthand the effects of climate change in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, Sept. 1, 2015.   (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Climate and Energy: Combatting Domestic Climate Change

Protecting the Environment and Addressing Climate Change at Home: November 2008 to January 2017

“Someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye and they'll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem and leave them a cleaner, safer, more stable world?  And I want to be able to say, yes, we did.”

From the day he first took office in January 2009 to the day he left office in January 2017, President Barack Obama believed that no challenge posed a greater threat to our children, our planet, and future generations than climate change. Indeed, as he saw it, acting on climate change was a moral obligation of the present, not a distant problem of the future. And that’s because, long before President Obama assumed office, the planet was already changing in ways that—if left unchecked—would have a profound impact on all of humankind. The scientific evidence accumulated and reviewed over the past several decades showed unequivocally that the planet was warming, primarily due to human activities over the past 50 years. As a result, summers were becoming longer and hotter. Winters were becoming shorter and warmer. Ice on land and in lakes and seas was melting. Global sea levels were rising. And from storms, hurricanes, and heavy downpours to droughts, fires, and floods, extreme weather was becoming more frequent and intense. Simply put, climate change was dramatically altering the world—and altering it in ways detrimental to life on Earth.

This timeline tells the story of how the President and his team took action to mitigate the impacts of climate change and protect our environment at home. It documents the decisions made, as well as the challenges faced, by the Administration in its efforts to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land that supports and sustains us. Above all, the timeline shows that—from reducing carbon pollution and expanding the clean energy economy to increasing the resilience of communities to the impacts of climate change to restoring ecosystems and preserving iconic landscapes—the President worked diligently to bring together Federal agencies, and all stakeholders, to tackle the greatest environmental challenges and economic opportunities of our time.

  • November 4, 2008 – President-elect Obama pledged “to build new partnerships to defeat the threat of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation, poverty and genocide, climate change and disease.”
  • November 18, 2008 – President-elect Obama pledged that “My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.”
  • January 26, 2009 – President Obama signed a memorandum directing the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin working to update vehicle fuel economy standards.
  1. April 1, 2010 –The U.S. EPA and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized a joint rule to establish a national program consisting of new standards for model year 2012 through 2016 light-duty vehicles that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel economy.
  2. August 28, 2012 – EPA and DOT issued greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards covering passenger cars and trucks for model years 2017–2025 that will nearly double the fuel efficiency of those vehicles compared to new vehicles currently on our roads, saving households hundreds of millions of dollars at the pump and making the U.S. less reliant on fossil fuels.
  • February 5, 2009 – The Administration released a memo on Appliance Efficiency Standards. 
  1. Since 2009, DOE’s Building Technologies Office (BTO) has issued 58 new or updated appliance and equipment standards, which are projected to save consumers over $550 billion off their utility bills through 2030, equivalent to saving the average family nearly $200 per year, and cut carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 3 billion metric tons. 
  • February 17, 2009 – President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which not only helped bring about a macroeconomic recovery but also invested $90 billion in clean energy and energy efficiency, the largest single investment in clean energy in history.
  1. In a retrospective analysis of the ARRA, published in February 2015, the White House Council of Economic Advisers found that these investments transformed America’s clean energy economy by supporting job creation, driving innovation, and scaling up renewable energy. In particular, through loan guarantees to support more than $40 billion of investment as well as tax credits, the Recovery Act spurred a major expansion of renewable energy generation through more than 100,000 projects across the country, including one of the world’s largest wind farms and the first large scale solar projects. By the end of President Obama’s first term, DOE and HUD completed efficiency upgrades in nearly two million homes, saving many families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.
  • March 30, 2009 – President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, designating more than 2 million acres of Federal wilderness, creating thousands of miles of trails, and protecting more than 1,000 miles of rivers.  It marked the most extensive expansion of land and water conservation in more than a generation
  • April 27, 2009President Obama announced the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), a high-risk, high-reward research program modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to support transformative energy technology projects.
  1. By February 2015, ARPA-E had invested approximately $1.3 billion across more than 475 projects, which had generated over $1.25 billion in follow-on funding.  (Click here for more information.)
  2. Annual patent filing for clean energy and pollution control technologies has more than doubled since 2008.
  • October 5, 2009 – To lead by example, President Obama signed an Executive Order that set sustainability goals for Federal agencies that focused on improving their environmental, energy, and economic performance. (Click here for more information.)
  1. Since the President took office, the Federal government has:
    • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 18 percent, avoiding the emission of over 41 million metric tons of carbon pollution, equivalent to taking 8.7 million cars off the road for one year;
    • Cut energy use intensity at targeted federal facilities by more than 15 percent. The energy savings in 2015 alone resulted in a cost savings of $680 million to taxpayers;
    • Reduced water consumption by more than 20 percent;
    • More than doubled the amount of clean energy produced on Federal sites;
    • Increased the number of Hybrid electric vehicles in the Federal fleet increased almost 12-fold between 2008 and 2015, from more than 1,700 to nearly 23,000 vehicles; and
    • More than doubled the Federal fleet’s consumption of alternative fuels, consuming more than 101 million gallons since 2008. The Department of These fuels are produced in the U.S., decreasing our dependence on foreign oil and enhancing our energy security.
    • The Department of Defense launched the Great Green Fleet, a Navy Carrier Strike Group that deploys on alternative fuels. These fuels have been procured at prices that are on par with conventional fuels, and have demonstrated Navy’s ability to go farther, stay longer and deliver more firepower
  • February 3, 2010 – President Obama established an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage.
  1. 2009 to 2017 - DOE projects have safely sequestered more than 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of the emissions from two million passenger vehicles from the nation’s roads for one year.
  1. June 24, 2015 – The Department of Energy announced it will issue $1.8 billion in loan guarantees to three subsidiaries of the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power). The last of three conditional commitments, which, when combined with the previously issued $6.5 billion in loan guarantees to Georgia Power Company (GPC) and Oglethorpe Power Corporation (OPC), allow Vogtle, the first new nuclear power plant to be licensed and begin construction in the U.S. in more than three decades, to be fully financed.
  1. 2010-2017 – After securing more than $16 billion in damages, criminal penalties and civil settlements from the companies responsible for the spill of 3.1 million barrels of oil, the Administration has already invested more than $1 billion in partnership with Gulf states for projects that restore barrier islands and coastal marshes and help enhance the valuable fisheries and recreation economy on which many Gulf communities depend.
  • May 21, 2010 – The President signed a Presidential Memorandum in the Rose Garden, directing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a first-ever National Policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucks for Model Years 2014-2018.
  1. August 9, 2011 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finalized the first-ever program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses.
  1. In keeping with this policy, the President took action to develop a comprehensive program to combat IUU fishing and support fishermen and, in September 2014, created the largest marine monument in the world completely off-limits to development. (Click here, here, and here for more information about the Administration’s efforts to protect our oceans.)
  2. In December 2016, the National Ocean Council released the Nation’s first two regional ocean plans, the Northeast Ocean Plan and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan. The plans and associated regional data portals provide an extraordinary body of new information about the marine ecosystem and human uses of the ocean and are the result of more than four years of collaboration between Federal and State agencies, Federally recognized tribes, and stakeholders across civil society.
  • September 2010 – The Administration reconvened the Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group (EJ IWG) to help ensure 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.
  1. Since then, Federal agencies have taken steps to integrate environmental justice into Federal decision-making and programs in areas such as transportation, labor, health services, and housing.
  • January 25, 2011 – In his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama challenged Congress to pass an ambitious but achievable Clean Energy Standard to require 80 percent of our electricity come from clean energy sources by 2035.
  • February 3, 2011President Obama announced the “Better Buildings Initiative,” which aimed to achieve a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020, reduce companies’ and business owners’ energy bills by about $40 billion per year, and save energy by reforming outdated incentives and challenging the private sector to act. 
  1. To date, more than 310 organizations are Partners in the Better Buildings Challenge. These organizations represent more than 4.2 billion square feet of commercial building space, 1,000 manufacturing facilities, and $5.5 billion in financial commitments from the private sector. We are seeing an impressive array of leaders from a broad range of sectors: state and local governments, commercial buildings owners, schools, hotels, hospitals, retailers, universities, and manufacturers. In the fourth year of the Better Buildings Challenge, Partners are on track to meet their goals and on average are saving 2.5% annually on their energy use intensity, representing cost savings of more than $1.2 billion since the program launched.
  • February 18, 2010 - The White House Council on Environmental Quality released draft NEPA GHG guidance for public comment that describes how Federal departments and agencies should consider the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in their National Environmental Policy Act reviews.
  1. Since then, the White House Council on Environmental Quality issued revised draft guidance for review in December 2014 and issued the final NEPA GHG guidance on August 1, 2016. ‎
  1. Since 2008, the amount of solar electricity generated in the U.S. has grown by a factor of 50 with more than one million solar installations currently operating across the country. The cost of solar energy has also dropped as much as 65%.  As a result, the industry is approximately 70% of the way toward meeting the SunShot 2020 goals. The program was so successful that in 2016, SunShot announced a new target to cut the cost of solar in half again by 2030.
  1. November 14, 2013President Obama announced that “Just yesterday, we learned that for the first time since 1995, the United States of America produces more of our own oil here at home than we buy from other countries.”
  1. September 19, 2014 – At the White House, the Departments of the Navy, Agriculture, and Energy announced new contracts to accelerate the development of cost-competitive advanced biofuels for use by the military and commercial sectors.
  • December 21, 2011 – The EPA finalized the first-ever national standards to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollutants, such as arsenic, acid gas, and cyanide, from power plants. The value of the air quality improvements from the standard for people's health alone totals $37 billion to $90 billion each year. That means that for every dollar spent to reduce this pollution, Americans get $3-9 in health benefits
  • January 24, 2012 – In the State of the Union, President Obama directed the “administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes.”
  1. 2009 to 2017 The Administration approved the first-ever, large-scale renewable energy projects on Federal public lands. Since 2009, The Administration has approved 60 large-scale energy projects that have the potential to produce enough electricity to power approximately five million American homes.
  • January 24, 2012 – In the State of the Union, President Obama announced that the Department of Defense “will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history – with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year.”
  1. The Navy surpassed its goal to deploy one gigawatt of renewable energy – enough to power 250,000 homes – in 2015.
  2. In 2016, the 210 megawatt Mesquite Solar 3 facility, which will provide one-third of the power needed for fourteen Navy and Marine Corps installations in California, became the largest purchase of renewable energy ever made by a federal entity.
  3. January 24, 2012 – In the State of the Union, President Obama said “This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”
  • January 26, 2012 – The Administration released a blueprint to make the most of America’s energy resources.
  • March 15, 2013 – President Obama reiterated his commitment to a sustained, all-of-the-above energy strategy and urged Congress to take up several proposals that aimed to further reduce American dependence on oil, better protect consumers from spikes in gas prices, and reduce pollution.
  • March 7, 2012 – President Obama launched EV-Everywhere to bring together America’s best and brightest scientists, engineers, and businesses to work collaboratively to make electric vehicles more affordable and convenient to own and drive than today’s gasoline-powered vehicles in the next 10 years.
  1. July 21, 2016 – On the heels of the Department of Energy’s first-ever Sustainable Transportation Summit, the Administration announced actions to accelerate electric vehicle adoption in the United States, including unlocking up to $4.5 billion in financing for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and a new collaboration between DOE, DOT, and more than 50 organizations centered around a set of Guiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure.
  2. November 3, 2016 - In keeping with our continued partnership with states, localities, and the private sector, the Administration announced several efforts to scale up EVs and fueling infrastructure. For the first time, the Department of Transportation established 48 national electric vehicle charging corridors on our highways—a key step forward to accelerate the utilization of electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure needed to support them.
  3. In the past eight years the number of plug-in electric vehicle models increased from one to more than 20, battery costs have decreased 70 percent. More than 40,000 outlets at more than 16,000 charging stations are now publically available for EV owners and operators in the United States. This is up from fewer than 500 stations in 2008.
  • December 14, 2012 – EPA revised national air quality standards for harmful soot pollution (particulate matter), an action with estimated health benefits ranging from $4 billion to over $9 billion a year.
  • December 21, 2012 – The EPA finalized changes to Clean Air Act standards for boilers, certain incinerators, and cement kilns that aimed to provide extensive public health protections and to cut the costs of compliance.
  • March 22, 2013 – The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a letter to the President describing what they believed should be the key components of the Administration’s climate change strategy. The letter included a call for a dual focus on mitigation and adaptation. (Click here for a 2015 letter about Administration support for the private sector in coping with climate change.)
  • June 7, 2013 – President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum that aimed to help make electricity more reliable, save consumers money on their energy bills, and support homegrown American clean energy jobs and industries by making renewable energy easier to access across the country.
  • June 25, 2013President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan—his vision to cut carbon pollution, help prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address global climate change. (Click the links to see the progress made on years one, two, and three of the plan.) 
  • August 19, 2013 – The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force released a rebuilding strategy to serve as a model for communities across the nation facing greater risks from extreme weather and to continue to help the Sandy-affected region rebuild.
  • September 20, 2013 – The EPA proposed first-ever carbon pollution standards for new power plants.
  • November 1, 2013 – President Obama signed an executive order directing Federal agencies to take a series of steps to make it easier for American communities to strengthen their resilience to extreme weather and prepare for other impacts of climate change.
  1. The executive order also established the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Administration on how the Federal Government can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are dealing with the impacts of climate change.
  2. The executive order called for a Climate and Natural Resources Priority Agenda, which represented a first of its kind, comprehensive commitment across the Federal Government to support resilience of our natural resources.
  3. July 16, 2014 – The President announced a series of actions to respond to the Task Force’s early feedback to help state, local, and tribal leaders prepare their communities for the impacts of climate change by developing more resilient infrastructure and rebuilding existing infrastructure stronger and smarter.
  4. November 17, 2014 – In response to additional early input from the Task Force, the Administration developed the Climate Resilience Toolkit, a website that provides centralized, authoritative, easy-to-use information, tools, and best practices to help communities prepare for and boost their resilience to the impacts of climate change. To date, over 200 tools have been made available through the Climate Resilience Toolkit, including county-level climate projections.
  5. October 30, 2016 – In order to help communities develop and implement strategies to enhance their resilience, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced the launch of the Resilience Dialogues, a public-private collaboration that allows community leaders to engage in facilitated, expedited, and tailored consultations with scientists, resilience practitioners, and other subject-matter experts.
  1. March 21, 2016 – The President issued a Memorandum to build national capabilities for long-term drought resilience based on the Federal Action Plan of the National Drought Resilience Partnership.
  1. August 16, 2016 – DOT and EPA finalized a second round of standards that will create more efficient medium- and heavy- duty vehicles for the next decade.
  1. September 22, 2016 – The White House announced the launch of the Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness, a public-private collaboration that will identify priority-information needs, reduce barriers to data access and usability, and develop an open-source platform to enable sharing of data and information for climate resilience. The Administration announced the Joint Declaration on Harnessing the Data Revolution for Climate Resilience, an agreement signed by 22 countries, six subnational and local governments, and 16 organizations to strengthen global collaboration to enhance access to actionable information for climate resilience.
  • March 28, 2014 – The White House released the “Climate Action Plan Strategy to Cut Methane Emissions.” The strategy identified opportunities to cut emissions from landfills, coal mines, agricultural practices, and the oil and gas sector. These actions would improve public health and safety while also recovering wasted resources that could be used to power farms, factories, and power plants.
  1. January 14, 2015 – The Administration announced a new goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40–45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025 and a set of actions to put the United States on a path to achieve this goal.
  2. May 12, 2016 – The Administration finalized standards to address methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, including finalizing the first-ever standards to directly reduce methane emissions from new and modified sources and taking the first step in the process to reduce emissions from existing sources.
  3. March 30, 2016 – The Administration announced a new voluntary Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program to reduce emissions from the oil and gas sector, with participation from 41 founding oil and gas companies.
  4. July 15, 2016 – EPA announced final actions to cut methane emissions from municipal solid waste landfills.
  5. November 15, 2016 - The Department of the Interior announced a final rule to reduce methane emissions and wasted gas on public and tribal lands. The rule updated 30-year old regulations governing venting, flaring, and leaks of natural gas, and will help curb waste of public resources, reduce harmful methane emissions, and provide a fair return on public resources for federal taxpayers, tribes and state.
  1. The report—a key deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan—confirms that climate change is affecting Americans in every region of the United States and key sectors of the national economy.
  • May 9, 2014 – President Obama announced more than 300 private and public sector commitments to create jobs and cut carbon pollution by advancing solar deployment and energy efficiency, in addition to new executive actions that also aimed to create jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and cut energy waste.
  • June 6, 2014 – The White House released a report summarizing The Health Impacts of Climate Change on All Americans, illustrating the have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not irrevocably polluted or damaged.
  • June 14, 2014 – President Obama announced the National Disaster Resilience Competition. The nearly $1 billion competition invited communities that had experienced natural disasters to compete for funds to help them rebuild and increase their resilience to future disasters. (Click here for additional information about the competition.)
  • July 3 and 14, 2014 – The Department of Health and Human services released its HHS Climate Adaptation Plan and its HHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. (For more information about the Administration’s work on climate change and human health, click here.)
  • July 24, 2014 – The Administration released a Roadmap for Solar Energy Development on Public Lands, establishing an initial set of 17 Solar Energy Zones (SEZs) in six western states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah) as priority areas for commercial-scale solar development.
  1. September 14, 2016 – The Administration released the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP), a landscape-level renewable energy and conservation planning effort covering 10.8 million acres of public lands in the California desert.
  • September 9, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA was investing more than $518 million in rural electric cooperatives to improve the reliability and resilience of the nation’s rural electric grid.
  • September 16, 2014 – The Administration announced new private sector commitments and committed to a series of executive actions to reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
  1. July 2, 2015 – The EPA finalized a rule under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program that will prohibit the use of certain HFCs where safer and more climate-friendly alternatives are available.
  2. October 15, 2015 – The Administration announced a second round of private-sector commitments and executive actions to reduce emissions of HFCs, which, taken together with the first round, will reduce cumulative global consumption of these greenhouse gases by the equivalent of more than 1 billion metric tons of CO2 through 2025. That is equivalent to taking 210 million passenger vehicles off the road for a year.
  3. September 26, 2016 – The EPA finalized two rules to reduce the projected growth and emissions of HFCs, including a second rule under the SNAP program and a rule strengthening refrigerant management.
  • October 8, 2014 – The Administration announced new executive actions and a series of private and public sector commitments that aimed to improve the management of our natural resources in the context of a changing climate and support investment in green infrastructure.
  • December 3, 2014 – The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) launched the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative to help connect American students and citizens with the best-available, science-based information about climate change. (Click here for a one year progress report.)
  • December 15, 2014 – The Administration released a best practices guide for health care providers, design professionals, policymakers, and others to promote continuity of care before, during, and after extreme weather events.
  • December 16, 2014 – President Obama designated the pristine waters off Bristol Bay as off limits to consideration for oil and gas leasing, which safeguarded one of the nation’s most productive fisheries and preserved an ecologically rich area of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska that is vital to the commercial fishing and tourism economy and to Alaska Native communities.
  1. January 27, 2015 – President Obama designated 9.8 million acres in the waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska’s coast as off-limits to consideration for oil and gas leasing.
  2. December 20, 2016 – President Obama withdrew 115 million acres in the U.S. Arctic Ocean and 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean from future mineral extraction, which will protect these ecologically sensitive marine environments from the impacts of oil and gas exploration and development.
  • January 21, 2015 – President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing the Arctic Executive Steering Committee to help coordinate Arctic-related activities across the Federal Government and enhance collaboration with State, local, and Alaska Native tribal governments and similar Alaska Native organizations, in addition to academic and research institutions and the private and nonprofit sectors.
  • January 30, 2015 – The White House released a new flood risk management standard for new and rebuilt Federally funded structures in and around floodplains. This new resilience standard aims to help ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent on infrastructure that can better withstand the impacts of flooding.
  • February 10, 2015 – The Administration launched the Clean Energy Investment Initiative and set a goal of catalyzing $2 billion in private-sector investment in promising technologies aimed at reducing carbon pollution.
  1. June 16, 2015 – The Administration exceeded its goal and announced $4 billion in commitments by major foundations, institutional investors, and others to fund innovative solutions to help fight climate change, in addition to a series of new executive actions to further encourage private-sector investment in clean-energy innovation.
  1. These goals built upon the progress made by Federal agencies under President Obama’s 2009 Executive Order on Federal Leadership on Environmental, Energy and Economic Performance, including reducing Federal GHG emissions by 17 percent and increasing the share of renewable energy consumption to 9 percent.
  2. The U.S. military also took steps to harness energy efficiency and new energy technologies to give our troops better energy options on the battlefield, at sea, in the air, and at home.
  1. The POWER Initiative was a down payment on President Obama’s POWER+ Plan, which was part of his FY 2016 budget request to Congress and aimed to invest in workers and jobs, address important legacy costs in coal country, and drive development of carbon capture and storage technology.  
  2. October 15, 2015 – As part of President Obama’s effort to assist communities negatively impacted by changes in the coal industry and power sector, the Administration announced 36 awards totaling $14,546,457 for partnerships in 12 states and tribal nations that were seeking to build a more diversified and better economic future for their communities, businesses, and workers. (Click here for more information.)
  1.  April 7, 2015 – President Obama spoke to doctors and health workers at Howard University Medical School in Washington, D.C., joined by the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murphy, and Gina McCarthy, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency about the health impacts of climate change.
  2. June 18, 2015 – The White House convened the first Summit on Climate Change and Health to stimulate a national dialogue on preventing the health impacts of climate change.
  3. April 5, 2016 – The U.S. Global Change Research Program released The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, which significantly advanced scientific knowledge regarding the impacts of climate change on public health.
  • April 14, 2015 -- The Department of the Interior announced final well control regulations to reduce the risk of an offshore oil or gas blowout that could result in the loss of life, serious injuries or substantial harm to the environment. 
  • April 21, 2015 – The Administration released the installment of the first-ever Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), which examined U.S. energy transmission, storage, and distribution and steps to modernize the nation’s energy infrastructure to promote economic competitiveness, energy security, and environmental responsibility. (Click here and here for more information.)
  • April 23, 2015 – The Department of Agriculture announced a comprehensive and detailed approach to reduce GHG emissions from agricultural production, increase carbon storage in our forests and soils and generate clean renewable energy. Through these voluntary and incentive-based measures, the strategy will reduce emissions by over 120 million metric tons by 2025.
  • May 19, 2015 – The Administration announced new steps to promote pollinator health, which is critical to the nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health. These steps included the release of a National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, the Pollinator Research Action Plan, and the Pollinator Partnership Action Plan.
  • May 26, 2015President Obama announced that the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were “finalizing the Clean Water Rule to restore protection for the streams and wetlands that form the foundation of our nation’s water resources, without getting in the way of farming, ranching, or forestry.” (Click here for more information about the Administration’s work on building a sustainable water future.)
  • June 10, 2015 – The Administration announced new Federal and private-sector actions that will promote sustainable agriculture and forestry and bring clean energy jobs to rural America.
  • 2009-2017 – USDA invested more than $29 billion to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners make conservation improvements and improve the sustainability of their operations across more than 400 million acres of private and tribal lands. 
  • July 7, 2015 – The Administration announced a new initiative to increase access to solar energy for all Americans, in particular low- and moderate- income communities, while expanding opportunities to join the solar workforce, including launching a National Community Solar Partnership, a goal to install 300 MW of solar on federal subsidized housing, and more than $520 million in independent commitments to advance community solar and scale up energy efficiency for low- and moderate- income households. 
  • July 7, 2016 – The Department of the Interior announced final regulations to ensure that any future exploratory drilling activities on the U.S. Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are conducted under the highest safety and environmental standards and subject to strong and proven operational requirements.
  • July 9, 2015 – The White House released a progress report highlighting some of the key actions taken by the Administration to advance the recommendations of the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which were compiled and delivered to the President in November 2014.
  1. Building on this progress, the White House also announced a series of new actions, including over $25 million in private and public investments, focused on enhancing resilience in the communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
  • July 21, 2015 – The Administration announced new investments in the next generation of power transmission and smart grid technology in 13 states and executive actions aimed at making it easier and faster to permit transmission lines.
  • August 3, 2015 – President Obama announced the Clean Power Plan, establishing the first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution from power plants. The plan was the Administration’s biggest step yet to combat climate change and protect public health, reduce energy bills for households and businesses, create American jobs, and bring clean power to communities across the country.
  • August 20, 2015Resilience AmeriCorps, which had been launched the previous month, announced ten cities for its pilot program to support communities in building capacity and technical support for climate resilience.
  • August 24, 2015 – President Obama announced a set of executive actions and private sector commitments to further promote the use and development of smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help households save on their energy bills and help the nation transition to cleaner, more distributed energy resources, including unlocking $ 1 billion in loan guarantees for distributed energy and opening up access to Property Accessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.
  • August 27, 2015 – The Administration released a new report on how green infrastructure can help enhance coastal resilience.
  • August 31, 2016 – President Obama traveled to Alaska to shine a spotlight on what Alaskans in particular have come to know: Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face, it is being driven by human activity, and it is disrupting Americans’ lives right now. While in Alaska, President Obama returned Mount McKinley to its native name Denali to reflect the heritage of Alaska Natives. See highlights from the trip here.
  • September 14, 2015 – The Administration announced a new “Smart Cities” Initiative, with the plan of investing over $160 million in Federal research and leveraging more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services. (Click here for more information about the initiative.)
  • September 22, 2015 – Thanks to the conservation efforts of various western leaders, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the Greater Sage-Grouse no longer required protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
  1. The greater sage-grouse conservation strategy comprises the largest landscape-level conservation effort in U.S. history, backed by the voluntary participation of more than 1,100 ranchers and farmers.


  • October 29, 2015 – Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Shaun Donovan, updated the public on how the Administration had invested in hard-hit communities to ensure that they didn’t just rebuild, but rebuilt smarter as part of the ongoing response to Hurricane Sandy. (To learn more, click here for the Rebuild by Design competition and here for the Department of Transportation’s climate adaptation and mitigation efforts.)
  1. To date, 27 states have climate adaptation plans to are completed or underway.
  2. November 3, 2015 – President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum that aimed to encourage private investment in natural resource conservation, and followed up with the announcement of $2 billion in commitments from private investors and local government to fund innovative approaches to restore wetlands, stream and wildlife habitat – one of the biggest ever non-federal investments in conservation.
  • December 2, 2015 – The White House released a progress report highlighting Federal actions to improve the measurement of land-sector emissions, reduce emissions and protect America’s natural resources against the impacts of climate change.
  • January 13, 2016 – In his 2016 State of the Union address, President Obama said, “I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”
  1. January 15, 2016 – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced a comprehensive review of the Federal coal program, the first such review in over 30 years, along with a pause on new coal leasing while the review is underway.  (Click here for more information.)
  1. August 24, 2016 – In honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, President Obama designated the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument encompassing awe-inspiring mountains, forests, and waters of north-central Maine. (Click here for more information.)
  2. August 26, 2016 – President Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii. (Click here for more information.)
  3. September 15, 2016 – President Obama designated the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, protecting fragile deep-sea ecosystems off the coast of New England as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.
  4. To date, President Obama had created or expanded 27 such monuments, more than any other president in history.
  • September 1, 2016 – The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Science Foundation released the first-ever, publicly available, high-resolution elevation maps of Alaska, delivering on the President’s Executive Order on Enhancing Coordination of National Efforts in the Arctic. These Digital Elevation Maps increased the resolution of Alaska from 30 meters to two meters or less, bringing the rapidly changing Alaskan landscape into focus for the first time.
  • September 9, 2016 – The Departments of Energy and Interior announced the publication of a collaborative strategic plan to accelerate the development of offshore wind in the U.S. (Click here for more information about wind power.)
  • September 21, 2016 The Council of Economic Advisers released a report about the economic record of the Obama Administration on climate change.
  • September 21, 2016 – President Obama signed a Memorandum on Climate Change and National Security, directing Federal departments and agencies to ensure that climate change-related impacts are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans.
  • September 27, 2016 – As part of National Preparedness Month, Federal agencies announced new actions to help build the capacity of state, local, tribal, territorial, private sector, and nonprofit stakeholders to recover from future disasters. 
  • September 28, 2016 – The United States hosted the first-ever Arctic Science Ministerial, bringing together Science Ministers from 25 governments and the European Union and representatives from Arctic Indigenous people’s organizations to discuss Arctic research priorities. To signify commitment to Arctic research, Ministers signed a Joint Statement on increased international collaboration on Arctic science and inclusion of Indigenous peoples in understanding and responding to changes in the Arctic.
  • November 3, 2016 - In keeping with our continued partnership with states, localities, and the private sector, the Administration announced several efforts to scale up EVs and fueling infrastructure. For the first time, the Department of Transportation established 48 national electric vehicle charging corridors on our highways—a key step forward to accelerate the utilization of electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure needed to support them.
  1. In the past eight years the number of plug-in electric vehicle models increased from one to more than 20, battery costs have decreased 70 percent. More than 40,000 outlets at more than 16,000 charging stations are now publically available for EV owners and operators in the United States. This is up from fewer than 500 stations in 2008.
  • November 16, 2016 - The White House released its Mid-Century Strategy for Deep Decarbonization alongside Canada and Mexico, setting out a long-term vision for cost-effectively decarbonizing our economy. The report, which is a key deliverable for the Paris Agreement, illustrates the pathways to achieve an 80 percent economy-wide emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2050—consistent with the global ambition necessary to avoid the most costly climate impacts and risks.
  • November 30, 2016 – The White House announced the Top Ten Actions to Support Entrepreneurship. The Administration has created and promoted new opportunities for clean-energy entrepreneurship, including support for student startups through business plan competitions; vouchers for services available to small businesses at National Laboratories; embedded entrepreneurial training within the National Laboratories; technical assistance and pilot testing at regionally-focused incubators and establishment of a national incubator network to support entrepreneurs and small businesses; and awards through the SunShot Incubator for startups driving down the cost of solar energy. These opportunities have doubled the number of partnership agreements between small businesses and National Laboratories, and supported hundreds of startups that have attracted well over $3 billion in follow-on funding. 
  • November 18, 2016 – DOI released the final 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which takes a balanced approach to best meet the nation’s energy needs by offering 70 percent of economically recoverable resources while ensuring protection of critical areas, including the Arctic and the Atlantic.
  • December 9, 2016 -- In direct response to requests from Alaska Native communities, President Obama created the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area protecting the cultural and subsistence resources of over 80 tribes as well as one of the largest seasonal migrations of marine mammals in the world of bowhead and beluga whales, walrus, ice seals, and sea birds. The United States also launched an interagency Economic Development Assessment Team in the Nome region of Alaska to identify future investment opportunities, and the Arctic Funders Collaborative (AFC), a group of 11 U.S., Canadian, and international philanthropic foundations, announced the coordination and mobilization of an estimated $27 million in resources for programs across the Arctic over the next three years
  • December 20, 2016 – President Obama took action to designate the bulk of our Arctic waters, totaling 115 million acres, and 31 undersea canyons in the Atlantic Ocean as indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing. In parallel, Canada announced that it is designating all Arctic Canadian waters as indefinitely off limits to future offshore Arctic oil and gas licensing, to be reviewed every five years through a climate and marine science-based life-cycle assessment.
  • December 22, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Energy offered a conditional commitment to guarantee loans of up to $2 billion to Lake Charles Methanol, LLC to construct the world’s first methanol production facility to employ carbon capture technology in Lake Charles, Louisiana. This project would represent the first loan guarantee made under the Advanced Fossil Energy Project solicitation issued by the Department’s Loan Programs Office (LPO).
    1. LPO has invested more than $30 billion invested in 30 projects nationwide, which has leverage $50 billion in investment.  The portfolio has a minimal 2.3% losses. As of September 2014, more than $810 million of interest had already been earned. This already more than offset losses: In the five years between when LPO began financing projects and 2014, actual and estimated loan losses to the portfolio were less than $780 million.
  • January 2017 – By the end of his time in office, President Obama had dedicated unprecedented attention and billions in resources to restoring priority ecosystems across the United States, working with a variety of stakeholders on collaborative efforts that strengthen natural resources for communities.  These ecosystems included such places as the Chesapeake Bay, California Bay-Delta, Great Lakes, Everglades, and Gulf of Mexico/Gulf Coast.
  1. December 5, 2016: The White House announced an updated Executive Order to Safeguard the Nation from the Impacts of Invasive Species, crafted to address emerging threats like climate change and impacts to public health.
“Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal -- in jobs that pay better than average. We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy -- something, by the way, that environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. And meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly 60 percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”

See Our Climate Record