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Looking Forward

Now that the election is over and a candidate has been selected, it is time to begin looking forward at what kind of second term president Barack Obama is going to be, especially regarding the environment and climate change.

Over the course of the campaign, President Obama dodged questions about the environment and was vague in those he did answer, but there was mention of a “warming planet” during his acceptance speech, amidst the plethora of other issues a president must concern themselves with.

He made an effort to tell the American public he will be concerned about climate change and take steps to alleviate the pressure and danger, and it appears the plan is to now show the public what he means. But what are the components of a second-term-Obama-presidency environmental policy?

First, and most important, is the re-election of President Obama allows for at least some action to be taken on climate change, whereas a Romney election would not allow, but rather stifle and extinguish, the possibility for climate and environmental action. So, while the policies promoted thus far by the Obama administration haven’t been as progressive as some would like, any progress at all should be considered a victory.

Second, President Obama is now unencumbered by the pressures of re-election, and can now be more aggressive and bold in his political approach and getting legislation passed; ultimately, the worst thing that could happen would be impeachment, which is extremely unlikely.

Also, President Obama is well-suited to continue his drive to control greenhouse gas emissions through the Environmental Protection Agency, support low-carbon energy and renewable energy programs, and to push better regulation for shale gas exploitation through Congress.

However, President Obama must still contend with the U.S. House of Representatives, which is still Republican-controlled, to pass any legislation. Obama’s carbon cap and trade bill died on Capitol Hill, chiefly due to the lack of bipartisan support. Further, the energy and environment status quo groups are still powerful, and still have large amounts of money they are willing to spend on maintaining the beneficial status quo.

For the environment and any hope to curb or combat climate change, the re-election of President Obama is a good thing. Now he just needs to hold up his side of the bargain.

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