However, Clinton blasted attempts by the federal government to force Oregon and other states to allow liquefied natural gas terminals. Although supporters say they can help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, critics of the proposed LNG terminals in Oregon say they pose environmental and safety dangers while doing little to encourage the use of renewable energy.

Obama voted for the LNG bill, setting up a controversy that could, in fact, elevate the environment from an emerging issue to the leading issue that Adler describes in Newsweek. To boot, The Oregonian series also includes an article about Clinton’s support for continuing millions of dollars in payments the federal government makes to Oregon to compensate for lost revenue resulting from bans on old-growth logging. Obama also supports reauthorizing the payments, but the story is ripe for development in the national media because it has a fascinating (but unmentioned) parallel in current international negotiations to draft a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. A point of serious contention in those United Nations-mediated talks is a proposal to pay developing nations not to deforest their lands, which would mitigate global warming.

Given The Oregonian’s reporting, in addition to the articles in Newsweek and the Post-Gazette, perhaps it is fairest to say that the environment has finally become a leading presidential issue for the press, but that it is too early to tell whether or not the public has come around. Whatever the case may be, the conspicuous coverage is a good start.

Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.