The Washington Post reports today:
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has placed a “hold” that blocks votes on confirming Harvard University physicist John Holdren, who is in line to lead the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco, Obama’s nominee to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to sources who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, Menendez is using the holds as leverage to get Senate leaders’ attention for a matter related to Cuba rather than questioning the nominees’ credentials.
I am in general a fan of Sen. Menendez, but this is just not the right way to get what he wants done. Putting U.S. science policy — and most especially policy related to climate science — back on track may be the single most important task this administration has.
We urgently need Lubchenco (see “For NOAA head, Obama appoints yet another scientist who gets climate“) and most especically Holdren (see “Obama’s strongest message on climate yet: John Holdren to be named Science Adviser“).
What can you do?
Here is the contact info for his office, courtesty of Climate Science Watch:
Menendez, Robert – (D – NJ)
528 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
Here is an excerpt from their letter to the Senator:
In the interest of responsibly dealing with one of the biggest challenges of our time — not to mention a looming threat to your own constituents in New Jersey who face the prospect of coastal flooding and more dangerous storm surges as a result of sea level rise and other myriad impacts — we respectfully appeal to your good judgment and ask you to release the hold on the Senate confirmation.
As the Post noted:
Stanford University professor Stephen H. Schneider said it was critical that Holdren take office as soon as possible, because “I know no others who bring the triple-play capability of John on security, energy and environment.“
UPDATE: Gristmill‘s Kate Sheppard asks, “Is this the same Menendez who last year told Grist that climate change should be a top environmental priority for the Senate, calling the issue ‘incredibly important’?” h/t WR.