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Environmental Records

While it is still too close to assume anything, including a President Obama victory in the November elections, it can be assumed the environmental policies established under the Obama administration will be continued and built upon in a second term.

Unfortunately, progress on environmental policy has been difficult given the continual feud between the administration and the House of Representatives, but President Obama has utilized his authority to exercise executive powers to instigate the most sweeping attack on air pollution in U.S. history. He has imposed the first carbon-dioxide limits on new power plants, steered billions of federal dollars to clean-energy projects, and tightened fuel-efficiency rules as part of the auto bailout, along with a proposal to cut mercury emissions from utilities by 91 percent by 2016—which would be his last year in a second term.

In a response to a piece of legislation—initially passed  by a Democrat-controlled House, but blocked in 2009 by the Republican-controlled Senate and killed by the 2010 Republican-controlled House—which would cut America’s carbon output by 80 percent by 2050 using a cap-and-trade system, President Obama used his executive authority derived from the Clean Air Act. The administration issued six major environmental rules, including ones that placed limits on toxic air pollutants, greenhouse gases, soot and smog-forming pollutants.

Opposition has claimed the regulations and restrictions put in place by the Obama administration are ultimately detrimental to the country as a whole, with emphasis on the economy, which resulted in the GOP-controlled House passing the Stop the War on Coal Act. Unfortunately, the SWCA is a product of ideology and not rationality, and as a result has little chance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Due to partisan polarization, the Obama administration has chosen to move ahead on its own, leading many to believe chances for compromise have been lost. In a second term, environmental leaders expect President Obama to have a more aggressive environmental agenda, take tougher action on limiting greenhouse-gas emissions, and continue to promote “green” energy technology.

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