Here is my original analysis which appeared in a piece by Suzanne Goldenberg in the Guardian on 26/01/2011...
President Obama is continuing to abandon the environment as an issue for his administration, according to this analysis. Like the Queens speech in the UK, the State of the Union Address is an opportunity for the President to outline the ambitions of his administration for the following year. It would seem that for President Obama, the environment is not one. On the same day that Carol Browner left the EPA, President Obama’s latest State of the Union address did not mention “climate change”, “global warming” or the “environment” a single time. While he did make some reference to moving towards a clean energy economy, this is a long way away from asserting the strong environmental agenda that he promised in his election campaign.
A content analysis of the previous three Presidents’ State of the Union Addresses shows that President Obama has the lowest average score of mentioning the environment as an issue on the most public of Presidential platforms. The results reaffirm President Clinton’s status as the greenest President of the contemporary era, but surprisingly put Obama below even George W. Bush. President Obama has an average score of only 1 mention per State of the Union (p/SoU), while President G.W. Bush scores closer to 2 p/SoU, and President Clinton a massive 6 p/SoU (see fig. 1).
Figure 1: average scores, by President
Perhaps more worryingly for environmentalists, President Obama is now showing a downwards trajectory, suggesting that the environment is becoming a less salient issue for his administration as he comes towards the end of his first term, rather than becoming more important towards the end of the previous two President's two terms (see fig. 2).
Figure 2: aggregate mentions of 'climate change', 'global warming' and the 'environment' in the State of the Union address over time*
The next few months will be significant, as President Obama seeks to replace Carol Browner, and continues to negotiate with an unfriendly and partisan Congress. This evidence suggests that, for now at least, President Obama is giving up on the environment as an issue for his administration.
* The best fit lines have been removed from figure 2 after a number of comments suggesting (rightly, in hindsight) that the correlation is not strong enough to justify them.