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Who’s handling EPA transition — and who might get the top jobs

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"Who’s handling EPA transition — and who might get the top jobs"

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Greenwire dishes out the key names:

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.

Sussman, 61, retired this year after a decade running Latham & Watkins’ environmental practice in Washington. He is also a senior fellow at the Podesta-led Center for American Progress. Previously, Sussman served during the first two years of the Clinton administration as deputy EPA administrator.

Jackson, 46, currently serves as administrator of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, though Gov. Jon Corzine (D) two weeks ago picked her to begin serving as his chief of staff starting Dec. 1. Jackson, an engineer, is the first African-American woman to run New Jersey’s environmental office.

Jackson also worked at U.S. EPA from 1987 to 2002, both in its headquarters and at its New York City regional offices.

Both Sussman and Jackson immediately jump to the top of the list of possible picks to replace Stephen Johnson as the next EPA administrator, though advisers in the campaign urged caution against making any assumptions.

Greewire notes that many other names are floating around:

Howard Learner, a longtime Obama environmental adviser and the executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago; Mary Nichols, an appointee of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) who leads the California Air Resources Board; former New Jersey DEP chief Brad Campbell; former Pennsylvania environment secretary Kathleen McGinty; World Resources Institute President Jonathan Lash; and Ian Bowles, the head of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

I know most of these folks personally, and they represent a very strong bench.

RFK rumor

A name that generated a lot of interest yesterday is environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of the late Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of the late President Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. The Politico newspaper quoted unnamed Democratic sources yesterday to say that Obama was seriously considering Kennedy, an officer and attorney for the environmental group Riverkeeper.

Kennedy would bring star power to EPA and giving him the job could be seen as a reward for Sen. Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain former president. Both Kennedys endorsed Obama before he had captured the Democratic nomination over New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But several sources warned against planning now for a Kennedy-led EPA. “It’s too early to put much stock in one rumor,” one Obama adviser said.

Among the other possible EPA candidates, both Jackson and Nichols have earned kudos for their work implementing their state-led climate change policies. Nichols, a former EPA air pollution director under Clinton, has been working over the last two years to put in place the key pieces of California’s landmark climate law.

“She has a lot of experience here,” Kevin Fay, president of Alcalde & Fay, a D.C. lobbying firm., and executive director of the International Climate Change Partnership, said yesterday during a panel discussion hosted by the Environmental Law Institute. “She has a lot of experience here. Pretty smart politically. But I don’t even know if she’s under consideration.”

Jackson’s recent promotion to work in Corzine’s office caught the eyes of one electric utility industry lobbyist. “She’s got a great reputation,” this source said. “She’s earned the respect of Jon Corzine, who’s known to be a very hard player.”

Obama’s EPA pick will face a wide range of challenges, including helping to drive a major shift in global warming policy and also dealing with a raft of Bush-era decisions that have prompted environmentalists’ lawsuits.

“There’s a lot of smart people out there,” Fay said. “I want people who are committed to rebuilding the morale of EPA and thinking smart and creatively both here domestically and around the world.”

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9 Responses to Who’s handling EPA transition — and who might get the top jobs

  1. Modesty says:

    I’m intrigued by the RFK Jr. rumor, but the “reward” thing seems bizarre:

    “Kennedy would bring star power to EPA and giving him the job could be seen as a reward for Sen. Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain former president. Both Kennedys endorsed Obama before he had captured the Democratic nomination over New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.”

    But, but..while Sen. Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama, RFK Jr. actually campaigned for Clinton…

    Not that that would sway Obama either way, but it just seems weird for Greenwire to describe it as a reward for endorsement in the primary campaign. Am I missing something?

  2. Jim Bullis says:

    I am hoping to hear some names of people who understand the need for innovation and how it might be accomplished.

    Hopefully there will not be a rush to mandate and restrictions that could close out important new possibilities.

  3. thingsbreak says:

    I can’t think of a worse choice to head the EPA than noted anti-vax, anti-science Robert Kennedy Jr.

    http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/06/robert_f_kenned.html

    There are many more instances, but I don’t want to get this comment flagged as spam for linking to too many other sites.

    I have full faith that the Obama administration would never be so reckless as to have someone like that in charge of the EPA.

  4. risa b says:

    James Hansen, maybe … ?

  5. David says:

    Anyone considering John Holdren? JFK school, AAAS Board Chair, etc. …

  6. Modesty says:

    OK, look, I have no opinion re RFK Jr. as head of the EPA; when I heard the idea I thought it sounded like a category mistake, but then I don’t know what the job responsibilities are for the Administrator.

    But can we please try to keep discussion a bit clearer on this. Just cause you don’t want mercury in baby vaccines, doesn’t mean you’re “anti-vax”.
    Does anyone have links that actually support the claim that he is “anti-vax” (as opposed to “anti-merc in vaccines”) rather than ones that simply yell that he is, repeatedly?

    And to say that RFK Jr is “anti-science”, and back it up with those two links?

    The Skeptico link contains this gem:

    “So does thimerosal in vaccines cause autism? Honestly, I have no idea although I doubt it – the increasing incidence of autism in Canada and Denmark despite bans of thimerosal would appear to falsify a causative link.”

    That would falsify a causative link? Perhaps if you think only mercury in vaccines could cause autism. Is that RFK Jr’s position?

    The second link contains this:

    “Moreover, RFK, Jr’s tendency to play fast and loose with science goes beyond mercury in vaccines and into the very area where he claims expertise, the environment, where he blames Katrina on global warming, for instance (not even Al Gore does that).”

    Ironically, that claim links to RFK’s:

    “Now we are all learning what it’s like to reap the whirlwind of fossil fuel dependence which Barbour and his cronies have encouraged. Our destructive addiction has given us a catastrophic war in the Middle East and–now–Katrina is giving our nation a glimpse of the climate chaos we are bequeathing our children.”

    so that readers can actually see for themselves that he didn’t “blame Katrina on global warming” but made a pretty straightforward and reasonable claim (one that “even” Gore makes).

    “Orac” then goes on to link to a 2003 smear job in the National Review which includes this claim:

    “In all these campaigns, environmental activists will continue to propagate the myth that the Bush administration is “waging war on the environment” and gutting federal environmental law.”

    Um, “the myth”?

    Take another look thingsbreak, I think you jumped the gun on this one.

  7. Mr.Mom says:

    Hey after what that disgusting Jhonson has done to the EPA, I think i wouldnt mind putting somebody in there who whould give the finger to all those corperate intrests.
    Its time for the EPA to protect our enviroment, instead of protecting buisness from our enviroment.

  8. thingsbreak says:

    @Modesty

    But can we please try to keep discussion a bit clearer on this. Just cause you don’t want mercury in baby vaccines, doesn’t mean you’re “anti-vax”.

    This is like saying, “Just because you want to teach criticisms of and alternatives to evolution doesn’t mean you are anti-evolution.” Robert Kennedy has repeated disgusting lies about vaccines and has engaged in bizarre conspiracy theorizing about the CDC in the process. He is an anti-vaxer, and anti-vaxers are anti-science.

    Does anyone have links that actually support the claim that he is “anti-vax” (as opposed to “anti-merc in vaccines”)

    There is absolutely no scientific evidence supporting his claims, and indeed, the entire relevant scientific community is strongly united against them.

    Sound familiar? We don’t need that crap in the EPA.

    Robert Kennedy, the conspiracy theorist:
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/7395411/deadly_immunity/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr/thimerosal-coverup-let-_b_4561.html
    http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS115871+04-Jun-2008+PRN20080604

    He has been confronted with the evidence that shows no causal link between vaccination and autism, and rather than accept what the science says, he continues to insist that there is a massive conspiracy afoot. He’s no better than any other denier.