Environmental Writers Disagree About Obama
On Monday, Bill McKibben, the writer, environmentalist, and founder of 350.org (and, let's not forget, GOOD 100 honoree) took to the pages of Mother Jones to express frustration with Obama's approach to our common climate problem:Despite the deadline of the Copenhagen conference, Obama placed energy second on his priority list, guaranteeing that health care would occupy most of the year.... And then-as with health care-he left it pretty much entirely up to Congress to write the necessary legislation. That kept him from having to bear the blame for a byzantine bill, but it also meant that the Senate-the body from which he came, and whose culture he had to know-could work in its usual style, without White House pressure. Which at the moment means that Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham are essentially rewriting the legislation, to what end no one really knows.Yesterday, Dave Roberts, another of the heavy-hitting environmental writers, chimed in on Grist with a piece called "Is Bill McKibben Right to Be Angry with Obama?":Alas, despite the far-reaching powers people tend to ascribe to the U.S. presidency in general and Obama specifically, it seems to me the real culprit is-yes, I'm going to say the same thing again, I'm boring!-the U.S. Senate.....When it comes to matters under executive branch control, the progress over the last 10 months has been amazing-new fuel-economy rules, new enforcement of efficiency standards, EPA moving forward on CO2 regulations, energy standards and goals for all federal departments, tons of green stimulus money, national retrofit programs, delay of mining and drilling permits, sustained bi- and multi-lateral international climate diplomacy ... the list goes on. Obama is doing what a president can do-more than any president has ever done.Roberts argues that without conservative Democrats in the Senate on board, there's only so much that Obama can do, and that further "White House pressure" in the form of public campaigning wouldn't help. He blames Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Jim Webb (D-Vir.), and Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).What do you think? Elizabeth Kolbert, want to weigh in?