Obama can take some serious credit in this arena, according to air quality experts. He has moved to regulate the emissions of ocean-going vessels, which pollute air as far inland as North Dakota. The president also finally set long-delayed standards for acceptable sulfur-dioxide and nitrogen-oxide levels in the air. And the administration is reconsidering (PDF) President Bush's relatively lax rules on ozone standards. Most importantly to advocates, the president refused to weaken the Clean Air Act—which they say has save d 160,000 lives in 2010 alone—in the face of Republican pressure.
There you have it. A whirlwind, incomplete tour of the last four years of messy environmental political battles. At the risk of oversimplification, the Lantern would say we're greener than we were four years ago in most aspects except climate-change legislation. Unfortunately, that will likely turn out to be, by far, the most important of the issues.