Many would agree. According to the Los Angeles Times, critics like former EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman have accused the Bush administration of allowing lobbyists and ideologues to influence the decision-making process of policies.
Not only have numerous democrats, such as Rep. Henry A. Waxman of Beverly Hills, openly accused the Bush administration of manipulating scientific processes and suppressing scientific knowledge in favor of political and corporate interests, but they also point to top officials, such as Vice President Dick Cheney and political advisor Karl Rove, and accuse them of pressuring federal agencies to support positions that alienate scientists.
Yet it's been more than Bush's eight years that energy activists have been waiting for somebody to treat renewable fuels seriously, says Hammer. That last time could stretch back to Jimmy Carter's administration in the 70s, which created the Department of Energy, poured billions into energy research and development, implemented the first efficiency standards for appliances and advocated renewable fuels, from biodiesel to solar power.
There was an abandonment of Carter's strategy in the Ronald Reagan administration though that soon followed. Now, we are coming back to a point where science is getting the place it deserves in the administration to push the green agenda forward.
The Economic Crisis and the Green Agenda
The financial crisis that has gripped the nation, however, could make the plan to pursue renewable energy hard to follow, some say. Hammer thinks it might be hard to follow through immediately on Obama's plan, but that investments could still be made in a basic energy infrastructure.
"You can't have economic control in the long run without sustainability," argues Cohen, who believes the two are interconnected and that policy makers need to recognize this. Cohen adds that spending money on the green agenda can help stimulate the economy.
In order to stimulate the economy and create jobs during the Great Depression, says Cohen, they did things like build schools and parks to develop the nation's infrastructure. The modern version of that in our economic times is to spend money on research and development to modernize our own use of energy, such as by deploying smart grids and delivering other renewable technologies.
It's a viewpoint, Obama shared during a press conference announcing his picks. "We can seize boundless opportunities for our people," said Obama. "We can create millions of jobs, starting with a 21st-century economic recovery plan that puts Americans to work building wind farms, solar panels and fuel-efficient cars."
It is clear Obama's team could do just that.
If the green team is approved by the senate, a lot more work still lies ahead.
"It's been a rough eight years, so [the team] needs to boost morale in each department," says Cohen. Also, he adds, it "needs to bring into the government people who have been energized by Obama." Those from universities, businesses and especially community based organizations, who are ready to take their work to the federal level.
Hammer predicts that Obama's team has the opportunity to also push for a Federal Block Grant Program designed to help cities develop energy strategies that congress has not funded that so far.
Under the new administration's team, Hammer expects to see a new Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and different types of tax credits that will provide incentives to the private sector to invest in renewable energy technology. For instance, tax credits that are only 12 to 24 months make it hard for certain technology sectors to make investments if they don't think money will be there down the line, so multi-year tax credits would provide more of an incentive for investment, he says.
There are plenty of expectations. But environmentalists all agree on one thing. As Hammer puts it: "We are all very excited about what the future holds."single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.