Mitt Romney says President Barack Obama blocked construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline as a gift to environmentalists. Newt Gingrich calls Obama "President Algae" for supporting research on biofuels. And Rick Santorum says Obama's environmental views constitute a "phony theology" that prioritizes the earth over people.
The leading Republican presidential hopefuls have cast Obama as environmental extremist whose policies have put him out of touch with the needs of ordinary Americans. It's a characterization that may resonate with GOP primary voters, but it has surprised environmental activists, many of whom say they are let down by Obama's record on their issues.
"The environmental movement has been at odds with Barack Obama for much of his three years in the White House," said Bill McKibben, founder of the environmental group 350.org. "The president is very much in the center -- far too much in the center for many environmentalists."
As a candidate, Obama's pledge to limit the gases that contribute to global warming and embrace cleaner forms of energy pleased many environmental activists. But nearing the end of his first term, Obama's record on the environment is mixed -- and many of his decisions have irked the very activists who Republicans suggest have broad sway over administration policies.