President-elect Barack Obama has rounded off his energy and environment Cabinet, to almost entirely positive remarks from conservation and environmental groups. Drawing from diverse backgrounds, Obama has picked a team that seems to reinforce his promises to reach across aisles while making huge strides towards protecting the earth.
- Secretary of Interior: Ken Salazar (Democratic Senator from Colorado)
- Secretary of Agriculture: Tom Vilsack (Former Democratic Governor of Iowa)
- Secretary of Energy: Stephen Chu (Nobel Prize winning physicist)
- EPA Administrator: Lisa Jackson (Former New Jersey environmental protection commissioner)
This is clearly a major step up from Bush’s team (remember when Dick Cheney picked himself to head the energy task force?), but does it mean that radicals and activists should celebrate? Or is there still a vast amount of work to be done by those on the front lines of these issues?
The answer to both questions is “yes.”
Obama’s cabinet will do well for climate change, species preservation, and for returning respect for peer-reviewed, transparent science in general, and those of us who fight for these issues should be glad. Obama’s mixed environmental record (such as his support for “clean coal”, nuclear technology and offshore drilling) means there is still much work to be done, but now our goals can be set higher, and our likelihood of success is much better than it has ever been.
Before progressives get their hopes up too high, it is important to note that his team does include a host of problems, such as proudly backing biotechnology and genetically modified food. As Obama himself worded it today, his Secretary of Agriculture will ensure “that Washington is looking out for […] the large farms that are feeding the world.”
The members of his upcoming Cabinet are all known for trying to please both environmentalists and corporate interests. But in this collapsing economy, where corporate America has failed to meet its obligations to us, yet again, our country and its people owe big business nothing. We can push the incoming government, so that it supports farmers and this earth by only backing small, organic farms. So that it supports the blue collar workers by supporting only industry that is clean, renewable, and can’t be outsourced.
His “please all” approach works well until a certain point- but I don’t care one bit for pleasing industries that don’t care one bit about me.