Obama On Climate Change Faces High Expectations, And High Hurdles, In Second Term

From The Huffington Post

By Tom Zeller Jr.

On the night of his re-election, President Barack Obama described grand ambitions for his second term, including a desire to bequeath to future generations a nation not only free of debt and unencumbered by inequality, but also one “that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

The laws of both physics and politics suggest he’ll have his work cut out for him, and his second-term success will surely be measured on far more concrete terms. The president, after all, faces several lingering and highly divisive decisions, including whether and how to clean up the nation’s aging fleet of coal-fired power plants, which pump vast amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. He also must decide whether or not to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, which would transport heavy, carbon-intensive oil from the scarred landscape of Alberta, Canada, to ports on the American Gulf Coast.

If past is prologue, Obama is unlikely to make anyone fully satisfied.

While many conservatives spent much of the last four years condemning the president as an environmental zealot bent on sacrificing jobs and economic growth to the altar of green, Obama also took substantial heat from his environmental base. A broad collection of conservation groups and climate activists have argued that the president was walking an equivocal line at best, championing emissions reductions, for example, while also embracing expanded oil and gas drilling, including in the delicate Arctic, and continuing his support for so-called clean coal technology, which many environmentalists consider an oxymoron.

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