How Bold a Path on Climate Change in Obama’s State of the Union?
President Obama is expected to outline more aggressive action on climate change in his big speech, but political and economic realities will shape his plan.
Advocates of the market-based cap-and-trade approach to curbing carbon dioxide appeared to make headway early in Obama's first term with a hard-fought measure that passed the House. But some environmentalists were rankled by the compromises, and the green movement never united behind the bill. Meanwhile industry opponents launched a ferocious and well-funded campaign to kill it. Obama, battling economic crisis from his first hours in office, spent much of his political capital pushing through his health-care initiative while climate action died a slow death in the Senate. (See related story: "California Tackles Climate Change, But Will Others Follow?")
At the start of Obama's second term, though, Al Gore's favorite sound bite—that political will is a renewable resource—may have some validity.