In one of the least-shocking political developments of 2012, four major environmental groups simultaneously endorsed President Obama’s reelection bid Wednesday.
The leaders of the Clean Water Action Fund, Environment America, League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club announced in a conference call with reporters that they would turn their members out in force to support Obama this fall.
League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski described the presidential election as ”a clear choice between someone who’s going to be a champion and someone who’s best buddies with Big Oil and climate deniers.”
All four groups endorsed Obama in 2008, but this is the first time they have done it concert. This was the earliest point in the election cycle that three of the groups had ever backed a presidential candidate, though the League of Conservation Voters endorsed Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in January 2004 in his unsuccessful effort to unseat President George W. Bush.
The environmental leaders noted that they did not embrace all of Obama’s policies—the Sierra Club, for example, has questioned the extent to which the administration supports domestic natural gas development—but praised his work on promoting renewable energy and denying a federal permit to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
“Clearly there is a lot of work to do, but this president has made historic progress in breaking our dependence on [fossil fuel] energy,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.
“It is no surprise that liberal environmental groups support President Obama’s agenda of shutting down energy sources, driving up energy prices, and shoveling billions of taxpayer dollars to their favorite green projects,” said Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “Governor Romney is focused on earning support across the country from Americans who are committed to protecting the environment while promoting instead of stifling economic growth.”
One of the most intriguing aspects of the groups’ endorsements is what they failed to ask Obama to do in a possible second term: national limits on greenhouse gas emissions linked to climate change. Obama embraced the policy as a candidate in 2008, and back then environmental leaders cited it as one of the primary reasons they were endorsing him.
This time, Environment America President Margie Alt said her group had three priorities for Obama to pursue if reelected: continued support for clean energy and energy efficiency, protection for America’s waterways and “special places” and steps to address “the climate crisis.”
When asked whether that meant another push to establish a national cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, however, Alt said she expected Obama to limit greenhouse emissions through regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. Those rules, the first of which were proposed last month, are limited in scope.
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said the campaign was “honored” to receive the groups’ endorsement, adding “we look forward to working with them throughout the campaign.”