The Atlantic went ahead and declared the key environmental issue for the 2012 elections: endangered species.
Forget climate change, writes Associate Editor Nicole Allan. Democrats have invited a potential political problem ever since Montana's own Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Simpson championed the wolf rider, which delisted the gray wolf in the northern U.S.
Allan points out that the rider has created two major problems. The first is a rush of other proposals to delist species that may hold up development. Here's one example:
Republican Sens. John Cornyn (Texas) and James Inhofe (Okla.) have proposed amendments to an economic-development reauthorization bill that would prevent the Fish and Wildlife Service from extending ESA protections to two species prevalent in oil and gas country.
The other problem is something that's already riled some of Tester's former supporters.
By courting Western voters, however, the Democratic Party runs the risk of alienating its environmentalist base of donors and activists.