More useful than those enumerations of potential picks, however, is an article by Darren Samuelsohn at the online news outlet Greenwire. Unfortunately, the piece is stuck behind the publication’s strict pay wall, but Samuelsohn was able to get a positive ID on the team that will help Obama make his decisions:
Former Clinton Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes will be in charge of transition planning for all of the key energy and environmental agencies, including U.S. EPA and the Interior, Energy and Agriculture departments. The transition team also will be split up by individual agencies.
At EPA, Obama has picked Robert Sussman and Lisa Jackson to run what will be a 10-12 person transition team, developing key policy recommendations and also monitoring the status of final Bush administration actions. Other members of the EPA transition team will be named in the coming days, according to two Obama advisers.
Other reporters would be well advised to approach these individuals in order to glean more useful insights about how Obama is putting his team together. Returning to the séance table for a moment, however, there a couple other speculative articles worth noting. Reuters’s Deborah Zabarenko, for instance, has an interesting piece that asks, “Could Obama appoint a ‘climate czar’?” The environmental community—rather than anybody close to the president-elect himself—seems to be floating that question, but the story captures the opinion held by many that environmental issues have been so “wide-ranging” and interconnected that higher coordination is necessary.
It’s an opinion that extends beyond the environmental realm. In a piece for ABC News headlined, “Science in a post-Bush world,” reporter Ki Mae Heussner has the subhead, “Wanted: A Cabinet-Level Science Advisor.” Indeed, criticism of the Bush administration is not limited to its global warming policy. During the presidential campaign there was a well-coordinated effort by an illustrious and diverse group of politicians, scientists, and journalists for a science debate that would address questions as wide-ranging as embryonic stem cell research, the safety of consumer products, and drug policy. Obama has already pledged to address many of those issues, but whether or not he will elevate the position of science adviser to cabinet level remains to be seen.
In a similar vein, Politico reports that Obama “is seriously considering the creation of an Energy Security Council within the White House, according to sources close to the transition.” The article also notes, however, that “A key Obama aide would not confirm the likelihood of a new council.” But though the future is far from certain, further insights can be found at a creative online exercise taking place at The New York Times’s new Green, Inc. blog, where the team invited a roundtable of energy experts to weigh in on what may come.
And finally, it’s well worth checking out the rolling coverage at Grist’s Barack Obama topic page. There, Kate Sheppard reports that “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), at a press conference on Wednesday, talked up the need for a stimulus package that includes green elements, ideally before Obama even takes office.” And David Roberts makes the smart observation that “Greens are deeply accustomed to believing that politicians are humoring them and will abandon their concerns at the first sign of lobbying … Perhaps, at least for a short while, Obama has earned the presumption of good faith.”
And perhaps he has. But if the last four days are any indication, the press isn’t going to leave it at that (indeed, I’ve only mentioned a fraction of the coverage here; for more, see the round-up at Knight Science Journalism Tracker). Journalists have spent eight years covering Bush’s environmental negligence—and this time they expect real change.
N.B. Anybody that is unfamiliar with the environmental issues that Obama will have to contend with should check out David Biello’s excellent, link-heavy round-up at Scientific American.