Call it the "green" team or even the "dream" team, but what environmentalists can now say with affirmation is that change really is here. President-elect Barack Obama's picks for his administration's green team are among the best and brightest scientists and advocates of environmental change.
Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Nobel-Prize winning physicist Steven Chu was named Secretary of Energy; Chief of Staff to the Democratic governor of New Jersey and state environmental official Lisa Jackson is to head the Environmental Protection Agency; former EPA administrator during President Bill Clinton's years Carol Browner will take on a newly appointed position in the White House as energy and environmental policy "tsar"; Los Angeles deputy mayor for energy and environment Nancy Sutley will chair the White House council on environmental quality; and, in the latest news, Colorado senator and attorney Ken Salazar, whose expertise is in water law, is expected to lead the Interior Department, where he would have a say in policies in oil and gas drilling among other resource extraction methods on public land.
A Team of Innovation
"It's clear that President-elect Obama is banking on innovation as one of our solutions to our energy crisis and these choices are an indication of it," says environmental policy expert Steven A. Cohen, who is the director of Columbia University's Master of Public Administration Program in Environmental Science and Policy in the School of International and Public Affairs and the executive director of the university's Earth Institute.
Take for example, Chu, who's the first Nobel laureate to be appointed to a presidential cabinet, or even Browner, whose new position signals the first time a President will have someone on his staff in the White House to oversee environmental and energy policies.
But regardless of titles, Obama's choices also represent a range of voices and experiences that will add to the rich debates to come on policies.
Nancy Sutley is "a voice we haven't had in environmental debates," says energy expert Stephen A. Hammer, director of the Urban Energy Project at Columbia University's Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public Policy.
Hammer, who researches and supports energy policymaking efforts in cities, takes a particularly liking to Sutley. She has had more than 10 years of experience in senior environmental, energy and water policy-making positions in California. It's her experience with cities that make her a choice candidate, according to Hammer.
Federal and state policies do not always work on a local level, he says, and to have somebody on the team who can provide a direct local perspective will play an essential role in creating effective policies.
"Historically cities have not been part of the energy policies discussions and that will change now," says Hammer.
The Voice of Science
Having someone of Chu's caliber and background in the team brings "science back in the forefront of energy," explains Hammer.
"I think in the past, people would generally argue that energy policy has been driven by politics."
In grammer school when we were informed that everything started with the ICE AGE the long term trend seems to have been WARMING. Among the many expensive attempts to fight warming shouldn't we at least make major efforts to prepare for might be inevitable.
Yes, I hope no one sees a conflict between working to mitigate climate change, with mitigation of its effects--also called "adaptation". Both are going to be essential.
im so happy obama is bringing real change...
First of many...I hope. we don't need another bush we just don't