Environmental groups say Obama did not fight hard enough. And they remain frustrated that climate change hasn't been an issue in the campaign, particularly in a year with historic U.S. droughts and wildfires.
"Truth be told, after the health care bill, they lost an appetite for another heavy lift," said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. "I give Nancy Pelosi enormous credit, but when the bill got to the Senate, it was clear there was not a lot of interest and engagement from the White House."
Critics of new climate laws, however, say green groups are out of touch with an American public that suffered during the recession, and they look warily at rules that could raise electricity or gas prices.
"The Obama administration is worried about the perception in certain states that there are people who believe environmentalists take their jobs -- in mining states, in logging states, places that make cars," said Kenneth Green, resident scholar in energy and the environment at the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market think tank in Washington, D.C.
Over time, some of Romney's views on environmental issues have changed.
As Massachusetts governor a decade ago, Romney opposed new offshore oil drilling, pushed for tax credits for hybrid cars and expanded recycling laws. In 2003, he denied a request from a coal plant in Salem for more time to meet toxic air pollution rules.
"If the choice is between dirty power plants or protecting the health of the people of Massachusetts, I will always come down on the side of public health," he said then.
This fall, however, his campaign has launched a full-throated defense of the coal industry, which has been hurt by cheap natural gas and tougher EPA rules. "We have 250 years of coal. Why wouldn't we use it?" Romney said in one ad, flanked by Ohio coal miners.
On climate change, Romney said he believes the science but is concerned over the costs of curbing coal and oil. "I think it's getting warmer," he said in an interview last year. "Two, I believe we contribute to it. And three, I don't know by how much -- a lot or a little. And so I am not willing to adopt multitrillion-dollar programs to reduce greenhouse gases in America. They don't call it America warming; they call it global warming."
In the end, whoever wins Nov. 6 will have to deal with opposition in Congress, lawsuits and other challenges.
"People making voting decisions based on environmental and energy issues are going to be disappointed when the governance begins," said Frank Maisano, a spokesman for Bracewell & Giuliani, a Houston firm that lobbies on behalf of refineries and utilities. "You usually can't govern the way you campaign."
Paul Rogers covers resources and environmental issues. Contact him at 408-920-5045. Follow him at Twitter.com/PaulRogersSJMN.
Signed bill protecting 2 million acres of wilderness in Sierra Nevada and the West.
Established four new national monuments, including one at Fort Ord.
Doubled gas-mileage standards for cars to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
Directed EPA to write mandatory greenhouse gas rules for power plants.
Imposed strict smog standards to cut mercury emissions from industry.
Disappointed environmentalists by not pushing harder for global-warming bill in Senate.
Named top scientists to environmental jobs.
Opposed doubling gas mileage standard.
Says he would block EPA from imposing greenhouse gas rules because of costs.
Would give more authority over drilling and mining on federal lands to states.
Supports expanding offshore oil drilling.
Says climate change is real, but U.S. should not act unilaterally.
Of 26 issue positions on campaign website, does not have one for "environment."
As Massachusetts governor supported tougher smog rules, expanded recycling.
Most Popular Stories
- Facebook, Twitter Announce Apps for Google Glass
- Will Yahoo Splurge on $1-Billion acquisition of Tumblr?
- European Car Sales up First Time in 20 Months
- 'Star Trek Into Darkness': The Return of Khan?
- Exciting Night for UFC Fans
- Teen Drivers Should Be Prepared for Any Car-Related Situation
- Google Fiber Making an Impact
- RFD-TV launches on Charter Cable
- Summer Movies Aimed at Young Men, Teen Boys
- Entrepreneurs Chase Social Media