Obama is probably not under enough pressure. However, he says that the environment is one of his top priorities, so maybe he’s putting pressure on himself.
He has helped to invest $90 billion in clean energy, called for a reduction in U.S. foreign oil dependence, called for 1 million advanced vehicles to be on the road by 2015, and proposed a Clean Energy Standard that would increase our energy production from clean sources from 40% to 80%.
I think any pressure Obama is under during his time in office just comes with the territory. Throughout most presidential reigns there has been some great amount of pressure due to a number of reasons. Obama is facing so much heat about the environment because that is the topic on most peoples’ minds.
In the next decade I am sure it will evolve into another issue that that future president will be under fire for. People want someone to blame, the public wants to believe that yelling at a single individual will change something. While Obama has power, placing great amounts of pressure on him will only get us so far.
In my opinion our political system has been disappointing with environmental issues as well our defecit. It is right to want results and change but more people need to do the research into how their legisltative representatives are impacting laws. Though presidents have a lot of power Americans fail to realize he cannot write laws (barring executive orders). Making someone into a scapegoat like what happened to Bush is not going to impact change, even if there is a guilty party it is up to us as the electorate to learn about all the complexities of our current political situation.
I agree with krich that Obama might not be under much pressure on environmental issues, simply because the public does not seem to be as concerned with issues of environment as they with issues of healthcare and education. I also agree with prenda11 that pressure is part of the job. Being the President of the US is a highly visible position, and people remember the president but not necessarily the other members of the Administration. Finally, I agree with mrraccoon that the president does not have all that much authority to sign anything into law. So, Obama can make his statements about plans to cut this or that, he can work with the members of his administration to build or break programs, and he can either sign or not sign proposed legislation. Ultimately, Obama will not be to blame for any cultural or social movements either for or against the environment.
In a broad sense, citizens and media outlets alike assume the President wields more power than he actually does. Obama is not exempted from this. He can alter opinion on a wide scale, advocate (and of course, sign) certain laws and regulations, and meet with important economic leaders. He cannot alter the dynamic of the nation’s economy in one fell swoop, and despite his efforts to develop and pursue alternative energy sources, he does not possess the authority to force corporations to fall in line.
I think that Obama has been placed in a difficult position because of the republican majority congress. With that said, he hasn’t introduced many environmental protection bills that would help mobilize his base. Most of his speeches are just cautious rhetoric. Also, there are a lot of actions he could take unilaterally through executive agencies such as the EPA. The fact that he has not done much, leads many to suspect that his re-election campaign may be partially funded through big oil interests. There is legitimacy to this because British Petroleum funded Obama’s 2008 campaign, as well as many democratic and republican members of congress.
It is not therefore a surprise that Obama has done little to make sure that B.P. disaster victims have not recieved compensation. The main criticism I have, as a political science graduate, is that Obama did not use the media at all. He could have used the media or any number of environmentally oriented non-profits to get the people behind environmental legislation. He didn’t because he isn’t working for the people, he is working for big oil interests in Washington. He also doesn’t want to offend the mythical “median voter” in the 2012 elections.
Many good points have been made on this thread regarding any “pressure” on Obama. Many people forget that he is just one man, the President, and not an Emperor or King. He does not wield absolute power over everything (for which our Constitution bans for a reason), and as part of the Executive branch cannot make anything law; that is the job of Congress only. He can suggest or propose bills and the like, but he cannot make anything he wants law. Also, like mentioned above, he has to contend with a Congress that may disagree with him, so it is understably difficult and frustrating for him as President. Another thing about the environmental issues is that right now they are not the main focus of the USA; things like the economy, joblessness, and health care are all the hot topics. Environmentalism has taken a back seat in many of the debates and critical issue discussions, especially as the next general election gets closer. Many, including myself, do believe Obama will try to resurrect the green issues to appeal to voters. We shall have to wait and see what happens, and perhaps nothing environmental will come into effect until after the elections are done.
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