For the last three years, Obama has had his hands tied on climate. Sure, he could've been more of a vocal proponent for climate change solutions, and he could have spoken up more about the issue. But opposition in Congress–angry, science-blind Republicans convinced that global warming is a hoax–ensured that he was never going to pass any meaningful legislation to slow our nation's carbon-spewing.
But evidently, Obama still wants to make some progress in the margins. Whispers abound that Obama is beginning to consider climate a legacy issue (as I had a hunch he might), and then there's this (via the Hill):
Like many Americans, he may have rethought his stance towards climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and a year of epic drought.
President Obama has identified climate change as one of his top three priorities in his second term after coming under fire from environmentalists for giving the issue short shrift during the campaign.
The president, in an interview for TIME's Person of the Year award, said the economy, immigration, climate change and energy would be at the top of his agenda for the next four years ...
Obama said his daughters have influenced his thinking about the need to tackle climate change.
“[O]n an issue like climate change, for example, I think for this country and the world to ask some very tough questions about what are we leaving behind, that weighs on you. And not to mention the fact I think that generation is much more environmentally aware than previous generations,” he told TIME.
And it's still unclear what Obama could accomplish even if Sandy rebirthed him as a die-hard climate activist. He could mobilize the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, I suppose. Or he could go to bat for renewable energy tax cuts. Or he could finally hold a major address where climate was a front-and-center theme. Just don't get your hopes for any sweeping attempts at a national carbon price or tax–federal legislation is going to be D.O.A. as long as the inertia of the Tea Party still grips Congress.