Environmental Protection

U.S. President Barack Obama

Obama Earns Average Grade on Environment, Group Says

Two year's into his term, Obama gets good grades for greenhouse gas endangerment finding but poor ones for endangered species from the Center for Biological Diversity.

In a report card released last week, the Center for Biological Diversity gave President Obama a C- grade for his two-year environmental record. The report card chronicles positive and negative policies on endangered species, climate, energy, public lands, and oceans.

“Barack Obama is no George Bush, but he’s no Theodore Roosevelt either,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the center. “His environment record is pretty dismal, considering all the promised hope and change.”

Among Obama’s bright spots were a declaration under the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gases endanger public health and welfare, the designation of 120 million acres of protected “critical habitat” for polar bears, and the reinstatement of protection for millions of acres of roadless lands. Negatives include a continuation of damaging Bush-era policies on polar bears and offshore oil drilling, stripping of federal protection for and killing of endangered wolves, and his failure to lead either Congress or other nations toward strong global warming policies.

“Obama’s record on endangered species is particularly bad and entirely predictable, given his appointment of Ken Salazar as secretary of the interior,” said Suckling. Obama has protected just eight species under the Endangered Species Act in the conterminous United States, while relegating 254 — including the wolverine — to the unprotected “candidate” list. His protection rate is slightly better than that of George W. Bush and much worse than those of Bill Clinton and George Bush, Sr.

The administration also failed to follow the lead of Canada and several northeastern states in banning lead ammunition and fishing tackle. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of lead enter the environment every year from these sources, poisoning and killing millions of birds and mammals.

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