The resignation at the end of 2012 of Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson, after a four-year tenure that began with high hopes of sweeping action to address climate change and other critical environmental issues, has awakened doubts about the strength of the Obama Administration’s commitment to dealing with environmental problems, says The New York Times.

After Mr Obama’s re-election, in the wake of a campaign in which global warming was barely mentioned by either candidate, the president said that jobs and the economy would be his first priority and that he intended only to foster a “conversation” on climate in the coming months. This is in striking contrast with the position of his early months in office, when climate change was identified as one of “humanity’s defining challenges”.

In 2009, for example, the White House gave its full support to a bill that would have limited climate-altering emissions and brought profound changes to energy production and consumption in the US. After the bill stumbled in the Senate, the Administration gradually abandoned broad-scale efforts on climate change, rejecting or scaling back a number of new regulations proposed by the EPA, notably a proposed new standard for ozone pollution.