a cap-and-trade bill _ which would have capped power plant carbon dioxide emissions and allowed trading of credits for the right to emit greenhouse gases failed on Capitol Hill due to bipartisan opposition. And despite Obama's many actions to bolster gay rights in his first term _ including repealing the military's ban on openly gay service members _ his reluctance to back gay marriage frustrated many of his liberal supporters until he ultimately voiced his support for same-sex unions last year.
Supporters of both issues say Obama will quickly have opportunities to demonstrate his commitment to their causes in his second term.
The Supreme Court will soon take up Proposition 8, California's ban on same-sex marriage, a case that could give the justices the chance to rule on whether gay Americans have the same constitutional right to marry as heterosexuals.
Opponents of the ban have called on the Obama administration to file an amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief to overturn the measure.
“We view the president's filing of an amicus brief in this case as the next natural step to his inaugural remarks,'' said Fred Sainz, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights groups. ``His call for equal justice under the law for gay and lesbian Americans including in their committed relationships is the centerpiece of the argument against Proposition 8.''
The White House has so far refused to take a position on the Supreme Court case.
For environmental groups, Obama's next best chance to make good on his inaugural address is a looming decision on the Keystone XL pipeline running from Canada to the Gulf Coast.
Obama blocked the pipeline last year, citing uncertainty over the project's route through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska. But on Tuesday, the state's Republican governor, Dave Heineman, gave his approval to a revised route for the pipeline, a widely anticipated move that nonetheless added to the political pressure for the Obama administration to approve or reject the new route without delay.
“If we are going to get serious about climate change, opening the spigot to a pipeline that will export up to 830,000 barrels of the dirtiest oil on the planet to foreign markets stands as a bad idea,'' said Anthony Swift of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Republicans and many business groups say the pipeline project would help achieve energy independence.
The State Department, which has federal jurisdiction over the $7 billion pipeline because it begins in Canada,