Environmental activists were delighted to have Barack Obama
replace George W. Bush as president. But greens are increasingly
unhappy with Obama's record - especially on climate change.
When Barack Obama took over the White House from George W. Bush,
environmental activists breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Under Bush and vice president Dick Cheney, resource extraction -
logging, mining, drilling for oil and gas - as often as not were
favored over protection of habitat and endangered species. So was
carbon-emitting energy production over conservation and "green"
No surprise there, since both Bush and Cheney had been oil men.
It was more than symbolic that environmentalists got short shrift in
the backroom meetings of Cheney's energy task force.
But things would be different with a progressive, young Democrat
in the White House, enviros thought.
'A green, dream team'
Just as important to those looking for a change in direction were
Obama's appointments to high environmental offices: Carol Browner,
who'd headed the EPA under Bill Clinton, as White House climate and
energy policy chief; Lisa Jackson, former head of the New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection, as EPA administrator; former
director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and US
Senator Ken Salazar as secretary of the Interior; and as secretary
of Energy, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu.
Together, they were seen as "a green dream team," as Gene
Karpinski, head of the League of Conservation Voters, put it at the
Indeed, things did change - particularly regarding climate change
and declared energy policy as it relates to creating jobs and
improving the economy. And from the California Bay Delta to the
Great Lakes to Chesapeake Bay, the Obama administration pushed new
strategies for environmental protection and restoration.
But recently, Obama and his administration have been taking flak
from the left on the environment.
This past week, the Center for Biological Diversity sued the US
Forest Service for failing to monitor and protect endangered species
and habitat in Arizona and New Mexico national forests.
"The big picture for species recovery in southwestern national
forests is grim," said Taylor McKinnon, the group's public lands
campaigns director. "In addition to failing to monitor and protect
endangered species while implementing the current forest plans, the
Forest Service is aiming to roll back species protections in its new
plans. In the long run, that's a recipe for extinction."
A week earlier, the same organization sued Interior Secretary
Salazar for not turning over emails, phone logs, and notes from his
meetings with oil-industry lobbyists before the BP oil spill when
the administration agreed to more offshore oil and gas drilling.
"We want to know who Salazar was talking to, what was said, and
what deals were made," said Kieran Suckling, executive director of
the organization. …