Next to pushing through two health care reform bills and a $787 billion economic stimulus, President Obama's major legislative accomplishment of 2009 was the House passage of a climate and energy bill, which would for the first time set a price for carbon dioxide emissions. The celebration, however, was muted by the defections of 44 House Democrats, and then smothered by gridlock in the Senate. Senate majority leader Harry Reid says he still expects a vote on similar legislation this year, but White House aides have been privately skeptical of getting strong carbon emissions limitations through the Senate anytime soon.
On the world stage, Obama made carbon regulation a major focus, but he has struggled to produce tangible results. The international summit in Copenhagen in December produced only a vague agreement, with developing nations like China, India and Brazil continuing to resist fixed emissions reduction targets that can be independently verified.