In yesterday’s New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristoff addressed President-elect Obama’s soon-to-be-made choice for Secretary of Agriculture, asking whether or not a “U.S. Department of Food” would better reflect the change our country needs to see realized in our food policy.
Kristoff notes that “a Department of Agriculture made sense 100 years ago when 35 percent of Americans engaged in farming. But today, fewer than 2 percent are farmers. In contrast, 100 percent of Americans eat.” As such, what we need now “is actually a bold reformer in a position renamed ‘secretary of food.'”
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Given today’s announcement of Obama’s likely appointment of Lisa Jackson as Administrator of the Environmental Protections Agency (EPA), how will the Obama platform impact the policy issues of importance to CLF?
Environmental Policy and the Clean Air Act
Major changes in air pollution and climate change policy are expected under the Obama Administration. Obama’s environmental platform calls for an 80 pecent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Many anticipate President-elect Obama to direct the EPA to use the Clean Air Act of 1990 as a guideline for setting carbon dioxide emission limits on power plants and other facilities. It is also expected that Obama will sign the California auto-emission waiver, rejected by President Bush, which would require that greenhouse gas emission from vehicles are cut by 30 percent by 2016. With the help of incoming House Energy and Commerce Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), a strong supporter of environmental issues, these initiatives may be possible.
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The Obama Administration’s team to lead the Environmental Protections Agency and Department of Energy appears to be in place. Officials close to the Obama transition team announced that Lisa Jackson, the former head of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and current Chief of Staff for NJ Governor Jon Corzine, is expected to be named to the EPA’s top position in the coming weeks. Jackson, who spent 13 years at EPA, would be the first African American to serve as EPA Administrator.
Nobel Laureate Steven Chu, the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who won a Nobel Prize for physics in 1997, is in line to be nominated as Obama’s Energy Secretary. As noted by the New York Times, Dr. Chu will play a central role in directing the research and development of alternative energy sources needed to replace fossil fuels in a era of constrained carbon emissions. A proponent for controlling greenhouse gas emission, Chu’s research has included work on biofuels and solar energy.
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