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Fun With Cabinet Consolidation

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"Fun With Cabinet Consolidation"

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The UK and Canada have both recently rejiggered their cabinets in order to be better equipped to deal with the climate change issue, prompting Dave Roberts to wonder about doing the same in the United States:

Looking through the list of U.S. cabinet positions, it strikes me that responsibility for climate change-related policy is spread wide and thin: Secretary of State (international treaties), Defense, Interior, Agriculture, HUD, Transportation, and Energy.

Possibilities:

  • Elevate EPA to cabinet level; put it in charge of climate policy.
  • Create a cabinet-level Secretary of Climate.
  • Change the mandate, and raise the budget and profile, of the DOE.
  • Per Hillary Clinton’s plan, create a National Energy Council modeled on the National Security Council, to coordinate climate/energy policy across departments.
  • Appoint some kind of czar. Everybody loves a czar.

What do y’all think? What’s the best way to rationalize climate/energy policy in the U.S. at an bureaucratic level?

If I ruled the executive branch (and note that I am the ninth most-important person in the country), I would start out by stripping the Department of Agriculture of some of its less-aggy functions and giving them to Health and Human Services or Education. Then the nuclear weapons stuff could be taken out of Department of Energy and given to the Pentagon. Then you consolidate Energy, Agriculture, Interior, and the EPA into a Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The other main climate-relevant departments, Transportation and State, have sufficiently separate functions that I think they need to remain basically separate. But a “climate czar” in the White House to coordinate on climate issues between those three departments and with the congress would be a good idea.

Except in the United States it’s much, much harder to change this kind of thing around than it is in the UK or Canada. And in many ways the Department of Homeland Security is a cautionary tale against attempts at bureaucratic rationalization that only wind up creating new problems and making things worse. So nothing of the sort will be done, and that’s possibly even a good thing.

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