White House Green Jobs Advisor Van Jones Resigns 9

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 08 Sep 2009 13:15:00 GMT

Van Jones, Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the Council on Environmental Quality resigned Saturday night. Below is the text of his resignation letter, sent to Chair Nancy Sutley:

I am resigning my post at the Council on Environmental Quality, effective today.

On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.

I have been inundated with calls – from across the political spectrum – urging me to “stay and fight.”

But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.

It has been a great honor to serve my country and my President in this capacity. I thank everyone who has offered support and encouragement.

I am proud to have been able to make a contribution to the clean energy future. I will continue to do so, in the months and years ahead.

Nominations of Lisa P. Jackson to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Nancy Helen Sutley to be Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 14 Jan 2009 15:00:00 GMT

  • Lisa P. Jackson, Nominated to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Nancy Helen Sutley, Nominated to be Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality

10:00 Boxer: Today marks a turning point for the environment and the health of the United States. I want to welcome Mrs. Jackson, who I’ve had the privilege to have several discussions in my office. Nancy Sutley has a strong record of service in my state of California. The mission of the EPA is to protect the public health and the environment. EPA must rely on science, not special interests. The chair of the CEQ needs to bring all the voices in the administration together.

10:11 Inhofe: What exactly is going to be the role of the new energy czar Carol Browner?

10:15 Lautenberg (D-N.J.): I am delighted to be able to greet Lisa Jackson. Lisa has fought to keep our state’s air clean. The challenges facing our environment are serious, numerous, and require immediate action.

10:20 Bob Menendez (D-N.J.): I’m proud to join my colleague in presenting Lisa Jackson to the committee. Her scientific background complements her managerial experience. I believe she will be the best administrator in the history of the department we have seen. In New Jersey, only the strong survive. Not only has she survived, she has thrived.

10:25 Boxer (D-Cal.): I’m going to miss Sens. Bond and Voinovich. But we keep renewing this Senate. Even when we disagree we’ve had a great working relationship.

10:26 Bond: We’ll do everything we can to keep it interesting.

10:27 Inhofe: We had breakfast this morning with the new members. I will really miss these two guys.

10:27 Klobuchar: I welcome our two new members. I enjoyed meeting with Jackson and Sutley. First, to quote Sen. Clinton, I’ve been very concerned that the EPA has been “operating in an evidence-free zone.” I’d like no more redacted testimony, and no more testimony intended to mislead on the facts and the law. Home-grown energy will generate a boom in our economy. I look forward to your thoughts how protecting the environment will create a 21st-century economy.

10:31 Barrasso: Congratulations to both of you, and thank you for both coming to my office. We in Wyoming are concerned when federal laws are used in ways they were never intended. Ranchers and miners in Wyoming know that dealing with climate change through the Clean Air Act would be a disaster. Turning the Endangered Species Act into a climate change bill is something Congress never intended. The true intent of the Clean Water Act—there’s overwhelming objection to extending jurisdiction over all water in the United States.

10:35 Boxer: We really have very big differences. You’re not going to make everybody happy. If you do, you’re doing nothing.

10:36 Merkley: We’ll miss Voinovich and Bond’s experience.

10:38 Bond: I want to protect the natural resources of Missouri. I was the co-author of the acid rain emissions trading provisions of the Clean Air Act. We need to protect our families. We’re suffering right now. They’re facing the housing crisis and job loss. Protecting families from climate change proposals that would raise costs by $6.7 trillion. That means zero-carbon nuclear power. Cellulosic ethanol. We want clean cars. We want clean coal technology. But we can’t support proposals from East and West Coast states that would kill Midwest manufacturing. We want to find a middle ground.

10:42 Carper: We can no longer afford inaction on climate change or air pollution. We must send the right signals to industry. We need leaders that can build alliances. I can think of noone more qualified to lead the EPA and the CEQ than Ms. Jackson and Ms. Sutley. Inaction means that thousands will die prematurely from pollution, thousands of children will be exposed to mercury.

10:47 Alexander: I enjoyed our meeting. Sen. Carper and I have worked together quite a bit: we need a new CAIR rule and a new rule on mercury. In discussions about climate change, I hope you will focus on carbon-free solutions and be skeptical of so-called renewable solutions—they’re just wind. Windmills on our ridges would interfere with our views of the Smokies. Subsidies for wind are 27 times greater per kilowatt-hour than any other renewables. All revenues from cap and trade should be returned to the people. A carbon-free fuel standard and cap and trade for power plants would cover two-thirds of all carbon emitted, then return all the money collected to people having trouble paying their energy bills.

10:51 Cardin: Thank you for being willing to serve. I’ve had the chance to talk with both of you in my office. The first issue I’m going to bring up is the Chesapeake Bay.

10:55 Isakson (R-Ga.): I’m very impressed by her resume, Tulane and Princeton. One of the unintended consequences of regulation is that it sometimes doesn’t work. There are ways to find flexibility. The potential regulation of greenhouse gases by the department has included the possibility of taxation on livestock. We have to be very careful about regulating natural emissions. I didn’t always agree with Carol Browner but she had a lot of sense. I was proud to be able to talk with you, Ms. Sutley, yesterday. It’s very important that we come up with a working water plan.

10:58 Whitehouse (D-R.I.): It is a perilous and fascinating time. With respect to the EPA, this is an agency that has fallen into significant distress. It needs its integrity restored. The people who work at the EPA give up a great deal in their lives. They’re not significantly well paid. They take pride in the mission. If you take away that pride by taking away the integrity of the agency, you risk taking away the key element of the agency’s success. Johnson has been a disgrace to this country.

11:02 Voinovich (R-Ohio): I think this next two years may be the most important two years I’ve served. I think some of the work we do on this committee is going to shape what the future looks like. I enjoyed our meeting in my office. For the record, I think Steve Johnson did an outstanding job as head of the EPA.

11:06 Lautenberg (D-N.J.): The EPA prevented action at the local levels. Under Mr. Johnson, the EPA sided with industry more often than not. The current administration has failed to provide sufficient funding to support the Superfund program. It’s time to usher in a better and brighter future.

11:10 Merkley (D-Ore.): It has been our experience in the past few years that it’s been up to the states to take the lead. We have the most aggressive renewable energy standard. The most aggressive energy efficiency standards for appliances.

11:15 Baucus (D-Mont.): Asbestos is an insidious poison.

11:17 Vitter (R-La.): I haven’t had a chance to visit with Nancy Sutley.

11:20 Jackson: Opening statement.

11:25 Baucus: Asbestos in Libby, Montana.

Jackson: It sounds like one of the worst sites I’ve heard of. I will report within 90 days on this issue.

Baucus: EPA’s never done a toxicity assessment.

11:33 Inhofe: Sen. Boxer and I genuinely like each other. This job is really tough. I was really pleased that you talked about transparency. This is very important. I don’t agree with the criticisms with the current administration not being forthcoming. I think they have. There’s never been a director who’s been more qualified than Stephen Johnson. I think he did a very good job.

Jackson: I look forward to working with this committee.

Inhofe: You were very emphatic about science. You said, science is my guide. That’s music to my ears. I know people don’t want to talk about it, but so many individuals have changed their mind on global warming. I want a commitment that you will take the time in the next two weeks that you will pull up my speech on the floor, and meet with you at some point.

Jackson: I’m happy to exchange views with you and to read your speech.

11:49 Boxer: It seems to a lot of us that there are disasters waiting to happen. EPA has authority to act. Will you commit to quickly assess the sites for immediate hazards and establish strong standards?

Jackson: EPA must assess the hundreds of sites out there immediately. Many are upstream of schools. I think EPA needs to assess first and foremost the current state. That’s only the beginning. EPA has in the past assessed its regulatory options with coal ash. It’s time to reassess those options.

Boxer: Sen Carper is going to have authority over TVA. We may move legislatively, but I think you have the authority to act. Rep. Rahall is looking to regulate under the Mining Act. I don’t think that’s necessary. Last year, President-elect Obama co-sponsored my bill to grant the California waiver. Will you immediately revisit the waiver?

Jackson: You have my commitment I will immediately revisit the waiver, looking at the science and the rule of law, relying on the advice of the staff.

11:55 Barrasso: On coal ash, I talked about clean coal technology with the nominee for Sec. of Energy and Interior. We don’t want to limit new technology.

Jackson: Coal is a vital resource in our country. It provides about 50% of our electricity. We have to mention in the same breath that it is the largest source of greenhouse emissions. We must invest aggressively in a technology that will work.

Barrasso: In the Financial Times, an article talks about what we’re asking people to do – to save the planet, they have to clean their teeth in the dark.

Jackson: One of the ways to begin to address climate change today is energy efficiency. Changing our habits, our appliances. I prefer not to think of this as pain as individual responsibility. People need to understand they have a responsibility in the choices they make. We should give them choices, allow them to have energy-efficient homes, more efficient cars.

Barrasso: Obama is going to appoint Carol Browner as White House adviser.

Jackson: Final EPA decisions will be made by the EPA administrator.

Barrasso: If you two disagree?

Jackson: I take very seriously my legal responsibility to enact the laws of Congress. Advisers can agree and disagree.

Barrasso: Questions of Congressional intent.

Jackson: I believe the laws are meant to have the flexibility to deal with the issues of today. I will commit to an ongoing conversation.

Barrasso: Unfunded mandates to states have grown.

Jackson: Budget realities for states are playing out every day. The EPA administrator has a role in formulating the President’s budget. Much of the permitting and enforcement work happens at the state level.

12:04 Lautenberg: I feel in some ways you’re part of my group. This is an engine that can’t stop. You were instrumental in writing New Jersey’s global warming law.

Jackson: We now have a modest cap-and-trade program operating in ten Northeast states. I look forward to sharing that experience with those in the committee that want to. There’s a tremendous role for states and municipalities in terms of reducing global warming emissions.

Lautenberg: We have to eliminate or certainly reduce this attack on the welfare of our children. We are facing something if unchecked will affect the health of future generations to a disastrous level.

12:12 Isakson: I have a suggestion for you to consider: people in regulatory positions can assume their relationship with those they regulate is adversarial, or they can work with businesses. I hope you’ll work on the issue of downstream pollution.

Jackson: As a resident of a state that gets one-third of its pollution from outside sources, I well understand the conundrum of meeting attainment standards.

Isakson: Taxing cattlemen that emit methane naturally since God created the earth.

Jackson: My commitment is that we will have conversations with stakeholders. All industries have the potential to do environmental harm. We have to make sure they are ready to deal with the future.

Isakson: Erosion control and the Clean Water Act.

12:19 Boxer: I can assure you that 80% of this country are much more worried that we’ve done nothing on CO2.

12:21 Whitehouse: There’s some dispute on this committee on whether the EPA is in distress. I don’t think there’s any dispute within the EPA.

Jackson: The role of the Inspector General is important.

Whitehouse: Watch out for OMB. It has become the political bullyboy influencing agency decisionmaking. I’ve spoken to Peter Orszag about this. Cass Sunstein’s appearance promises reform. Rhode Island is one of the states participating in the California waiver. How much can you go forward on your own?

Jackson: Much of the initial agenda for the EPA is now set by court decisions. I will review the California waiver decision forthwith. The Supreme Court has ordered the EPA to make an endangerment finding. When that finding is made, it triggers the beginning of the regulatory process. Another court decision on CAIR commands EPA to review that. All those things together means there will be an extraordinary burst of activity not just from EPA but also from Congress. I think there is a real opportunity to move together. Industry would prefer a clear roadmap. I think there is tremendous opportunity there.

12:29 Boxer: Obama committed not to reviewing the waiver, but signing the waiver. TVA needs to stop bemoaning commitments to the environment.

12:32 Cardin: We look forward to the California waiver going forward. Chesapeake bay and lead poisoning.

Jackson: Lead poisoning in children is an important issue.

12:39 Carper.

12:50 Voinovich: It would be great to get Browner together with the committee. We haven’t done very much in this committee. We haven’t been able to harmonize issues of energy, economy, environment. A hundred communities are being asked to take care of their combined-sewer overflow problems. We have an interesting environment today. We need to do more planning than ever before. I think there’s an urgency about climate change. It has national security implications. But how do you do something without killing the economy?

Jackson: We need to be able to review our rules: Are they legal, are they sustainable, are they based on science?

1:02 Merkley: We have one lifetime to address climate change.

1:32 Boxer: Perchlorate. Superfund.

1:50 Jackson hearing concludes.

2:05 Sutley: I will play an important role in formulating the executive branch’s policy on climate change. There is effectively no agency that is not touched by these issues. It will be a complete effort by the executive branch.

Boxer: OMB role.

Sutley: The OMB has executive order responsibilities. I think science decisions and science review should be done by science experts in the agencies. I don’t expect people in the OMB unless they are scientists to review the science.

Boxer: OMB has gotten involved and called the shots. It’s a red flag. The Obama OMB may be different from the Bush OMB. We look to you for leadership on the environment. From what you’ve said, I feel good about it. The IRIS program.

2:16 Whitehouse: You play everybody who participated in the public process for a fool when you make actual decisions in secret. The entire agency process was a sham, all done behind closed doors by OMB and the White House. This is an issue I’ve taken up with OMB.

2:19 Sutley: The question of how the role of the climate adviser is formulated is an important one. The CEQ will retain all of its statutory roles. The EPA administrator will continue her advisory role. Climate change is one of the most important issues of the day. I can tell you that we will be working together closely, and the decisions of which policies the president will pursue will be his decision.

Whitehouse: Will you report to Carol Browner on issues of climate change?

Sutley: I know we will work together very closely.

Whitehouse: Oceans.

2:27 Boxer: There are some questions in writing that we would like answers to by Friday so we can move on the nominations. We stand adjourned.

Obama Announces Climate Team

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 16 Dec 2008 01:39:00 GMT

President-elect Barack Obama introduced his selections for his energy and environment team today: Dr. Steven Chu for Secretary of Energy, Lisa Jackson for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Nancy Sutley for chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and Carol Browner for a new White House position as chief energy and climate adviser. Heather Zichal was also named as deputy assistant to the President on climate and energy policy.

Below are Barack Obama’s remarks:
Good afternoon. Over the past few weeks, Vice President-Elect Biden and I have announced key members of our economic and national security teams. In the 21st century, we know that the future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked to one challenge: energy. So today, we’re pleased to introduce the team that will lead our efforts on energy and the environment.

In the next few years, the choices that we make will help determine the kind of country – and world – that we will leave to our children and grandchildren. All of us know the problems rooted in our addiction to foreign oil – it constrains our economy, shifts wealth to hostile regimes, and leaves us dependent on unstable regions. These urgent dangers are eclipsed only by the long-term threat of climate change, which – unless we act – will lead to drought and famine abroad, devastating weather patterns and terrible storms on our shores, and the disappearance of our coastline at home.

For over three decades, we’ve listened to a growing chorus of warnings about our energy dependence. We’ve heard President after President promise to chart a new course. We’ve heard Congress talk about energy independence, only to pull up short in the face of opposition from special interests. We’ve seen Washington launch policy after policy. Yet our dependence on foreign oil has only grown, even as the world’s resources are disappearing.

This time must be different. This time we cannot fail, nor be lulled into complacency simply because the price at the pump has – for now – gone down from $4 a gallon. To control our own destiny, America must develop new forms of energy and new ways of using it. This is not a challenge for government alone – it is a challenge for all of us. The pursuit of a new energy economy requires a sustained, all-hands-on-deck effort because the foundation of our energy independence is right here, in America – in the power of wind and solar; in new crops and new technologies; in the innovation of our scientists and entrepreneurs, and the dedication and skill of our workforce. Those are the resources we must harness to move beyond our oil addiction and create a new, hybrid economy.

As we face this challenge, we can seize boundless opportunities for our people. We can create millions of jobs, starting with a 21st Century Economic Recovery Plan that puts Americans to work building wind farms, solar panels, and fuel-efficient cars. We can spark the dynamism of our economy through long term investments in renewable energy that will give life to new businesses and industries, with good jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. We will make public buildings more efficient, modernize our electric grid, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect and preserve our natural resources.

We must also recognize that the solution to global climate change must be global. I spoke a few days ago with Senator John Kerry, who updated me on the recent climate negotiations in Poland. Just as we work to reduce our own emissions, we must forge international solutions to ensure that every nation is doing its part. As we do so, America will lead not just at the negotiating table – we will lead, as we always have, through innovation and discovery; through hard work and the pursuit of a common purpose.

The team that I have assembled here today is uniquely suited to meet the great challenges of this defining moment. They are leading experts and accomplished managers, and they are ready to reform government and help transform our economy so that our people are more prosperous, our nation is more secure, and our planet is protected.

Dr. Steven Chu is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who has been working at the cutting edge of our nation’s effort to develop new and cleaner forms of energy. He blazed new trails as a scientist, teacher, and administrator, and has recently led the Berkeley National Laboratory in pursuit of new alternative and renewable energies. Steven is uniquely-suited to be our next Secretary of Energy as we make this pursuit a guiding purpose of the Department of Energy, as well as a national mission. The scientists at our national labs will have a distinguished peer at the helm. His appointment should send a signal to all that my Administration will value science, we will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that the facts demand bold action.

For my Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I have chosen Lisa Jackson. Lisa has spent a lifetime in public service at the local, state and federal level. As Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, she has helped make her state a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing new sources of energy, and she has the talent and experience to continue this effort at the EPA. Lisa also shares my commitment to restoring the EPA’s robust role in protecting our air, water and abundant natural resources so that our environment is cleaner and our communities are safer.

Nancy Sutley will be an integral part of this team as the Chair of my Council on Environmental Quality in the White House. In recent years, we have seen states and cities take the initiative in forging innovative solutions on energy. Nancy has been at the cutting edge of this effort – working as a Regional Administrator for the EPA, at the state level in Sacramento, and recently as the Deputy Mayor for Energy and the Environment in Los Angeles. Now, she will bring this unique experience to Washington, and be a key player in helping to make our government more efficient, and coordinating our efforts to protect our environment at home and around the globe.

Finally, the scope of the effort before us will demand coordination across the government, and my personal engagement as President. That is why I’m naming Carol Browner to a new post in the White House to coordinate energy and climate policy. Carol understands that our efforts to create jobs, achieve energy security and combat climate change demand integration among different agencies; cooperation between federal, state and local governments; and partnership with the private sector. She brings the unmatched experience of being a successful and longest-serving Administrator of the EPA. She will be indispensable in implementing an ambitious and complex energy policy.

Later this week, I will be announcing my designee for Secretary of the Interior, which will fill out my energy and environmental team. The Interior Department will play a critical role in meeting the challenges that I have discussed today.

Looking ahead, I am confident that we will be ready to begin the journey towards a new energy frontier on January 20th. This will be a leading priority of my presidency, and a defining test of our time. We cannot afford complacency, nor accept any more broken promises. We won’t create a new energy economy and protect our environment overnight, but we can begin that work right now if we think anew, and act anew. Now, we must have the will to act, and to act boldly.

Thank you.

Draft Oversight Report: Systematic White House Climate Change Censorship

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Dec 2007 18:54:00 GMT

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), today released a draft report entitled Political Interference with Climate Change Science Under the Bush Administration.

The report is based on the committee’s January 30 and March 19 hearings, depositions, and interviews of government officials on White House censorship and manipulation of governmental climate change science over the last 16 months.

Scientists, reports, and testimony from NOAA, NASA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Climatic Data Center, and the Environmental Protection Agency were affected.

Findings include:
  • Media requests to speak with federal scientists on climate change matters were sent to Council on Environmental Quality for White House approval
  • The White House edited congressional testimony regarding the science of climate change
  • CEQ Chief of Staff Phil Cooney and other CEQ officials made at least 294 edits to the Administration’s Strategic Plan for the Climate Change Science Program to exaggerate or emphasize scientific uncertainties or to deemphasize or diminish the importance of the human role in global warming
  • The White House insisted on edits to EPA’s draft Report on the Environment that were so extreme that the EPA Administrator opted to eliminate the climate change section of the report
  • CEQ eliminated the climate change section of the EPA’s Air Trends Report
  • CEQ Chairman James Connaughton edited the August 2003 EPA legal opinion disavowing authority to regulate greenhouse gases

Lobbying by the U.S. Department of Transportation Against State Actions to Address Climate Change (cancelled)

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 25 Sep 2007 14:00:00 GMT

Internal e-mails show that Transportation Secretary Mary Peters personally directed a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign approved by the White House to oppose EPA approval of California’s landmark standards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

Allegations of Political Interference with Government Climate Change Science (Part II)

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 19 Mar 2007 14:00:00 GMT

On Monday, March 19, 2007, the Committee held a second oversight hearing on allegations of political interference with government climate change science. Witnesses at the hearing included the former Chief of Staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the current Chairman of CEQ, the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and a former NASA public affairs officer. At the hearing, the Committee examined evidence of White House efforts to minimize the significance of climate change.


Panel I
  • Philip Cooney, former Chief of Staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • Dr. James Hansen, Director, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • George Deutsch, former public affairs officer, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Panel II
  • James Connaughton, Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality
Panel III
  • Dr. Roy Spencer, University of Alabama in Huntsville

Allegations of Political Interference with the Work of Government Climate Change Scientists

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 30 Jan 2007 15:00:00 GMT

The Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on January 30 regarding political interference in the work of government climate change scientists. In preparation for the hearing, Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member Davis have requested documents from the Council on Environmental Quality related to allegations that officials edited scientific reports and took other actions to minimize the significance of climate change.

  • Dr. Drew Shindell, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA
  • Mr. Rick Piltz, former Senior Associate, U.S. Climate Change Science Program
  • Dr. Francesca Grifo, Senior Scientist and Director of the Scientific Integrity Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., Professor in the University of Colorado’s Environmental Studies Program and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Evnvironmental Sciences.