by Daniel J. Weiss
On Monday, President Obama surprisingly announced that Chief of Staff Bill Daley would depart the White House at the end of January. Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew would replace him as chief of staff – one of the most powerful positions in government.
Some environmentalists were jubilant over Daley’s parting. He was chief of staff during a tumultuous year when the Administration finalized and proposed many critical public health and environmental protection measures that will benefit Americans for years to come.
The derision directed towards Daley is primarily due to President Obama’s decision to reject the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to follow scientists’ recommendation to modernize the ozone smog health standard. Daley immersed himself in this decision, meeting with both industry opponents of a more protective standard as well as public health and environmental proponents. Press reports indicate that he played a major role in blocking this vital safeguard. Relying on the existing standard instead would allow 12,000 deaths annually.
The day of the decision, I told the New York Times that:
“Today’s announcement from the White House that they will retreat from implementing the much-needed — and long-overdue — ozone pollution standard is deeply disappointing and grants an item on Big Oil’s wish list at the expense of the health of children, seniors and the infirm.”
There is, however, a lot more to the Administration’s public health and environmental record under Bill Daley than this bad decision. In fact, the Administration finalized or proposed many critical safeguards over the past year. This is just a partial of list of the public health and environmental protection accomplishments on his watch.