Faith in Obama to Fix Environment Declines

Fewer people believe that President Obama will clean up the environment.

In this Dec. 9, 2008 file photo, President-elect Barack Obama meets with former Vice President Al Gore in Chicago.

President-elect Barack Obama meets with former Vice President Al Gore in 2008 in Chicago.

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Fewer Americans believe President Obama will institute policies that will help the environment during his next term than did four years ago, according to a new poll released by Gallup Thursday.

In 2008, 70 percent of American believed an Obama administration would improve the quality of the environment, compared to 57 percent in 2012, an 18.5 percent decline. The most recent poll was conducted after the election from Nov. 9-12.

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Obama largely ignored the environment during his most recent campaign, though he did reject much of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would have pumped crude oil from Canada into the United States. He also signed a law that will require cars to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

But in his press conference Wednesday, Obama underscored why Americans are probably right to have less faith that he'll clean up the environment over the next four years. While he acknowledged that "climate change is real [and] it is impacted by human behavior, and carbon emissions," he also said that reducing emissions would require "some tough political choices."

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"If the message is somehow, we're going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don't think anybody's gonna go for that," he said. "I think the American people right now have been so focused, and will continue to be focused, on our economy and jobs growth."

Earlier this month, Brad Johnson, campaign manager for Forecast the Facts, an organization trying to put pressure on leaders who deny climate change, said Obama's silence on climate change during his first term was a "dereliction of duty."

Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com.