Obama’s cabinet is said to be full of intellectual heavyweights. On climate issues, there are several key people to watch out for. (Luiza Savage’s article on this is very good on this and other cabinet issues, if you haven’t already read it.)
1) Henry Waxman – the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The tenacious democrat blasted the Bush administration on everything from tobacco to loosening standards on toxins like arsenic in drinking water. He is said to be one of leaders of the campaign against “dirty oil”, i.e. oil from Alberta’s oil sands.
2) Steve Chu – the Nobel Prize winner is the new energy secretary and climate czar. Chu has devoted much of his career figuring out a way to wean people off fuels.
3) Tom Vilsack – the Agriculture secretary is the former governor of corn-growing Iowa, where ethanol subsidies are considered a golden goose, bringing jobs and revenues to the state. However, his support isn’t unwaivering – he has suggested lowering the tariff on greener, more efficient Brazilian sugar-based ethanol, which might bring more competition to the industry.
4) Jane Lubchenco – a marine biologist at Oregon State University, is the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the government agency responsible for marine life and studying the climate. Dr. Lubchenco has been critical of the Bush’s inaction on greenhouse-gas emissions and marine pollution, including the species die off in ocean dead zones.
5) John Holden – an expert in the fields of energy, the environment and nuclear proliferation is Obama’s top scientific adviser. When he was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2007, he argued publicly for swift action on climate change, arguing that otherwise we were headed for disastrous changes that would affect all life on earth.
6) Carol Browner was the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clinton administration and is the now the new energy “czarina”. She used to be on the board of Socialist International’s Commission for a Sustainable World Society, a socialist group that calls for “global governance” to move from a high to low carbon economy.
7) Ray LaHood – a Republican from Illinois is the new transport secretary. Many die-hard greenies have heavily criticized his appointment, arguing that he has financial ties to the very industries he’s supposed to regulate. Still, I’m sure Obama is well-aware of the importance of balance.