Much was at stake in the Presidential election of 2012, which was marked by heated debate over the trajectory of the economy, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, and the fat of the President's health care plan. The candidates disagreed about nearly every issue from foreign policy and the war on terror to a woman's right to choose and same-sex marriage. Lost amid the din and never mentioned in the Presidential debates or most of the campaign speeches was another divisive topic: how our environmental laws and policies should address global climate change and chart a sustainable future for the United States and the world. Yet the environment was on the ballot during the 2012 election, despite its absence from the national debate. The President's efforts to address climate change, promote renewable energy, and provide stronger environmental protection would have been reversed or curtailed if he had lost the election. The environment also arguably influenced the outcome of the 2012 election when Hurricane Sandy struck and gave the President the opportunity to show bi-partisan leadership. It has become almost a cliché to say that no one storm can be attributed to climate change, but Hurricane Sandy underscored both our collective yearning to move beyond partisanship and the moral imperative of decisive steps to address climate change.
Toward a Sustainable Future: An Environmental Agenda for the Second Term of the Obama Administration. American Constitutional Society for Law and Policy Issue Brief Series, January 2013.