The NY Times quoted a prominent environmental activist as saying that Obama’s policies are “almost indistinguishable from the policies of the Bush administration.” (here) The story suggested that this attitude was not unique, calling “many fossil fuel critics disillusioned and unwilling to do much to support the president.”
Believing that Obama’s policies are similar to Bush’s, or that little is at stake in this election environmentally, simply ignores reality. To borrow AP’s description of another candidate’s response to the attack on the consulate in Libya, dismissing Obama’s environmental achievements “seriously mischaracterized what had happened.” Consider the record.
The past four years have seen environmental progress on many fronts, against unremitting opposition from industry and the Republican Party: EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations, stimulus spending on renewable energy, mercury limits on coal-fired plants, scrutiny of mountain-top mining permits, pledges of greenhouse gas reductions the Copenhagen climate talks, and the new fuel efficiency standards.
Money speaks louder than words. The fossil fuel industry has spent $153 million this year to make the case against Obama and his policies. Industry’s eagerness to unseat Obama speaks volumes about his environmental policies.
I sympathize with the impatience of people who understand the need for more dramatic action on climate issues. So do I. But it is always important to remember the risk that the perfect will become the enemy of the good.