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Must Read: Failure on Climate Brings Obama’s Green Grades Down

President Barack Obama wth Vice President Joe Biden speak with CEO of Namaste Solar Electric, Inc., Blake Jones, while looking at solar panels at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Jumping off from Al Gore’s criticism, in the pages of Rolling Stone, of Obama’s climate change record, Slate’s Brian Palmer poses the question: Is America greener than it was four years ago? His answer: … it’s complicated. On air pollution, there’s no question: “By virtually any measure, America’s air is cleaner today than it was four years ago,” for which the president can take significant credit. On the protection of wild spaces: not as strong, but pretty good. Obama has advised all federal agencies with a role in land stewardship to consider the effects of climate change when developing their management plans; and he’s won environmental plaudits for supporting rules regulating roadless areas under federal management. Even on climate change, Obama can point to some gains: emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane have declined; and he raised fuel-economy standards for cars and (finally) light trucks. But – and it’s a big but – Obama gave up on a major climate bill that would have regulated emissions. (The House passed cap-and-trade legislation but the president never really invested, and it went nowhere in the Senate.) So, to recap: “[W]e’re greener than we were four years ago in most aspects except climate-change legislation,” Palmer writes. “Unfortunately, that will likely turn out to be, by far, the most important of the issues.” [Slate]

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