Looking at Obama’s Record on the Environment

November 16, 2011

Editor’s note: William Y. Brown responds to John M. Broder and Dan Frosch’s piece, “U.S. Review Expected to Delay Oil Pipeline Past the Election,” in a letter to the editor on the New York Times’s website regarding President Obama’s environmental record.

Environmental groups are dismayed that President Obama has withdrawn the Environmental Protection Agency’s smog-reducing proposal and moved forward on offshore drilling in Alaska. Some threatened not to support his re-election effort if the Keystone pipeline were approved, and the decision has been delayed until after the election. Mr. Obama’s green base will most likely soften anyway.

But Mr. Obama faces opponents for the presidency who call climate change a hoax, evolution iffy and E.P.A. a cuss word.

It might be emotionally satisfying for environmental groups to take their marbles from the electoral table. But if their cause seeks outcomes rather than appearances, the right course for them is to fully support the best candidate, whether Democrat or Republican, and to take the current administration to task directly for actions they believe are wrongheaded.