The Obama administration’s global warming legacy: Going with the flow and the politics of failure

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


George A. Gonzalez analyzes Obama’s program for attacking the problem of greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants. Gonzalez uncovers a flaw in this 2014 policy. The flaw is that implementation of the policy relies on state governments who are less interested in reducing emission than in economic growth. This federalism requirement was a part of the history of the Environment Protection Agency. Accordingly, Obama’s greenhouse emission policy is more symbolic than a real reform. The dominant figure in the making of environmental policy has been the business community. Allowing the states to implement said environment policy undermined the policy. Firstly, the 30 percent target reduction from power plants was meager as utilities are switching to natural gas and will likely achieve this target without government intervention. Secondly, the Obama administration’s reliance on the states to achieve even this modest goal communicates that the administration was not interested in reducing greenhouse gasses, but in managing, assuaging the public’s concerns over climate change. Thus, the administration’s policies on global warming were symbolic, not substantive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLooking Back on President Barack Obama's Legacy
Subtitle of host publicationHope and Change
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783030015459
ISBN (Print)9783030015442
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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