Is Obama dragging his feet on environmental issues to get reelected?
The Obama administration's recent record on environmental issues is uninspired, critics say. But the president faces more immediate problems with the economy and record-high unemployment.
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Even so, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that the percentage of Americans who believe the earth has been warming has risen to 83 percent from 75 percent last year – 71 percent of whom believe the heating of the planet is caused, at least in part, by human activity.Skip to next paragraph
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That may not impress GOP presidential candidates like Rick Perry (who has accused scientists of manipulating climate data) or Michele Bachmann (who says climate change is a hoax). But it does turn up the temperature on Obama among the pro-environment base that helped get him elected president in 2008.
The National Journal regularly polls what it calls “Energy and Environment Insiders.”
“Many say that President Obama’s retreat on environmental issues isn't over yet,” the magazine and online news source reported this week. “Over half of Insiders responding said that Obama is likely to delay imposition of other new environmental regulations, with 15 percent calling the prospect 'very likely' and 39 percent deeming it 'somewhat likely.' ”
“The only decision metric that matters for the next 14 months is, ‘Will this help us get reelected?’ ” one Insider told the National Journal. “If a regulatory decision is a liability, we should fully expect the administration to delay until Nov. 7,” of 2012 – the day after the presidential election. Another Insider said that Obama "will likely pick and choose by delaying those rules his advisers believe are too politically damaging to pursue before 2013 and finalizing those that he can survive politically.”
On Thursday, EPA administrator Jackson announced that her agency would miss a court-imposed Sept. 30 deadline for climate-change rules applying to power plants and refineries. A July 26 date for issuing the new regulations had been missed as well. (In 2007, the US Supreme Court sided with 12 states and several cities that had sued the EPA for failure to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.)
Jackson and other EPA officials insist that this week’s delay is not political but bureaucratic. Others have noted that the White House Office of Management and Budget still has to consider the regulations before they can be issued.
But that has not mollified environmentalists who see something more sinister behind the delay.
“Every day we delay cleaning up our nation’s power plants fattens polluter profits and shrinks our chances of tackling the climate crisis,” said National Wildlife Federation climate and energy policy director Joe Mendelson. The announcement on delaying power plant regulations “suggests that when it comes to uncontrolled carbon pollution, the administration appears content with business as usual.”