The timing of President Barack Obama’s long-awaited speech on climate change offers perhaps the first public sign of a White House acknowledging a disquieting reality: Presidencies end.
That might seem a remote worry for a president still in the flush of his second term, less than eight months after winning reelection. But the climate task is monumental enough that it could easily take up the rest of Obama’s time in office.
Tuesday’s rollout might give Obama just enough time to carry out the biggest environmental effort of his presidency — if he starts now.
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Myriad factors, of course, go into timing the launch of any major White House initiative, especially one that has been lingering on the president’s punch list since before he took office. (This month marks five years since the campaign speech in which Obama proclaimed that “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”)
Among the complications: The president may be months away from the politically fraught decision on approving the Keystone XL pipeline — probably enraging many of the same climate activists he’s now trying to woo. Meanwhile, the Senate is still dithering on confirming Obama’s choice for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. faces a 2015 deadline for agreeing to the next big internati...