Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Greens Sour on Obama

In 2008, Barack Obama was the candidate environmentalists had been waiting for. After eight years of the climate skeptic George W. Bush, Obama represented himself as someone who believed in science, who was willing to make the U.S. a leader in the battle against global warming. He promised cap and trade and drafted the greenest Cabinet in U.S. history, with luminaries like Energy Secretary (and Nobel Prize–winning physicist) Steven Chu.

But less than a year before the 2012 election, many greens have soured on Obama. He's blamed for not putting enough energy behind the push for cap and trade, which finally died in the Senate last year. He's accused of kowtowing to polluters, watering down regulations on smog and other air pollutants. And when it seemed likely that he would approve the Keystone XL oil-sands pipeline, the most liberal green groups were ready to abandon him altogether. Obama's decision to postpone Keystone XL — as well as moves to improve gas mileage — earned him a reprieve, but don't expect environmentalists to turn out for the President with the same intensity they did in 2008.