Way back on Election Day I made my prognostications about the Green Team. The most important omissions -- an energy and environment czar and the CEQ chair. I didn't know about the plan to have a top policy advisor, although it makes infinite sense. I don't know why I didn't do CEQ -- I guess because I haven't perceived CEQ as the source of real power on the environment. And I don't think that will change with Obama, especially with Browner in the top policy advisor role. So, at any rate, here are the winners. Again, you can see why I don't gamble in Las Vegas or anywhere else!
are some predictions/picks on the Cabinet positions of most
significance to environmental matters according to Politico's
semi-official leaks. My picks and comments are in green. Results are in red.
Attorney general: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine; Eric Holder, who was deputy AG under Clinton
and is now with Covington & Burling and led Obama’s vice presidential
search; Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. Odds on favorite is Holder Score one for the home team
Supreme Court nominee: Washington superlawyer Robert Barnett; legal
scholar Cass Sunstein; Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick; 2nd U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor of New York; Elena Kagan, dean of Harvard Law
School. Consensus is it would most likely be a woman. First
nominee has got to be a woman - Kagan is smart and has credibility, but
this is a much shorter list than Obama will look at. Nope - Solicitor General instead, but give her a couple of years at Justice and she's teed up for a trip to the Court
Secretary of State: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; Sen. John F. Kerry
(D-Mass.); Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind) State
is too important to give to a Republican, Kerry's too valuable in the
Senate, and Richardson was UN Ambassador so he knows international
diplomacy Boy, did I blow it. Clinton was an obvious and brilliant choice.
Environmental Protection Agency administrator: Former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.); Kathleen
McGinty, former head of the Pennsylvania Environmental Protection Agency Again, McGinty is an odds on favorite who knows her stuff Not even close -- Lisa Jackson wasn't on the short list even.
Commerce secretary: Penny Pritzker, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Sen.
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) Need
some Republicans and Olympia Snowe is a liberal one; although she's
more valuable in the Senate. So maybe one of the non-environmental
positions will go to a Republican and Obama will stick with a
Democrat. I'd take Sebelius -- she's articulate and mid-Western.This is a black box question mark now that Richardson's out of the running along with Sebelius.
Secretary of the Interior: Rep. Jay Inslee(D-Wash.), Robert F. Kennedy
Jr.This is the position most likely to go to someone who hasn't been in the running.Well, I didn't get Salazar's name, but I did figure out that the right name wasn't obvious.
Secretary of Energy: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), Sen.
Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.); My
pick would be Lincoln Chafee, a liberal Republican who understands
environmental issues as well as energy issues. Again, Bingaman's too
valuable in the Senate. Way, way, way, way wrong!!! Chu's a far better choice than I would ever have imagined.
Secretary of Agriculture: Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, Rep. Collin
Peterson (D-Minn.) Vilsack is odds on favorite. OK, got this one
Energy and Environment Investments in Obama's Recovery and Reinvestment Plan
Here are the items in Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan that directly affect energy and environment: renewable energy; smart electricity grid; weatherizing homes; clean energy private sector finance; highway and bridge infrastructure replacement projects and mass transit projects; water supply, water treatment, wastewater treatment and sewage system projects. Energy and environment projects in recovery plan I wonder how Obama plans to deal with NEPA and permitting issues.
From the report on specifics:
Doubling renewable energy generating capacity over three years. It took 30 years for our nation to reach its current level of renewable generating capacity – the recovery and reinvestment plan will double that level over the next three years. That increase in capacity is enough to power 6 million American homes.
Jump-starting the transformation to a bigger, better, smarter grid. The upfront investments and reforms in modernizing our nation’s electricity grid will result in more than 3,000 miles of new or modernized transmission lines and 40 million “Smart Meters” in American homes.
Weatherizing at least two million homes to save low-income families on average $350 per year and modernizing more than 75% of federal building space, saving taxpayers $2 billion per year in lower federal energy bills. Today, the federal government is the world’s largest consumer of energy. The recovery and reinvestment plan will make an historic investment in upgrading the federal building stock that will save taxpayer dollars and help catalyze a green building industry.
Launching a Clean Energy Finance Initiative to leverage $100 billion in private sector clean energy investments over three years. The finance authority will provide loan guarantees and other financial support to help ease credit constraints for renewable energy investors and catalyze new private sector investment over the next three years.
Enacting the largest investment increase in our nation’s roads, bridges and mass transits systems since the creation of the national highway system in the 1950s. The plan will repair and modernize thousands of miles of roadways in the U.S. and providing new mass transit options for millions of Americans.
Modernizing our nation’s water systems with funding to support 1,300 new wastewater projects, 380 new drinking water projects and construction of 1000 rural water and sewer systems, ensuring that 1.5 million people have new or improved service.
The energy challenges our country faces are severe and have gone
unaddressed for far too long. Our addiction to foreign oil doesn't just
undermine our national security and wreak havoc on our environment --
it cripples our economy and strains the budgets of working families all
across America. President Obama and Vice President Biden have a
comprehensive plan to invest in alternative and renewable energy, end
our addiction to foreign oil, address the global climate crisis and
create millions of new jobs.
The Obama-Biden comprehensive New Energy for America plan will:
Help create five million new
jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to
catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars -- cars that can get up to 150 miles per
gallon -- on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are
built here in America.
Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Energy Plan Overview
Provide Short-term Relief to American Families
Crack Down on Excessive Energy Speculation.
Swap Oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Cut Prices.
Eliminate Our Current Imports from the Middle East and Venezuela within 10 Years
Increase Fuel Economy Standards.
Get 1 Million Plug-In Hybrid Cars on the Road by 2015.
Create a New $7,000 Tax Credit for Purchasing Advanced Vehicles.
Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard.
A “Use it or Lose It” Approach to Existing Oil and Gas Leases.
Promote the Responsible Domestic Production of Oil and Natural Gas.
Create Millions of New Green Jobs
Ensure 10 percent of Our Electricity Comes from Renewable Sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
Deploy the Cheapest, Cleanest, Fastest Energy Source – Energy Efficiency.
Weatherize One Million Homes Annually.
Develop and Deploy Clean Coal Technology.
Prioritize the Construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.
Reduce our Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050
Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.
Here's my church's video to launch our 2009 Drink Water for Life lenten challenge. If you benefit from the work I do on this blog, please, please, please......take the challenge or find another way to contribute to organizations that do community-based water projects. Church World Service or Global Ministries are great faith-based organizations. Water for Life and Water for People are great secular groups.
Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a water borne disease like cholera or dysentery from lack of clean water and sanitation. Together, we can change this. Village by village.
Watch the State of the World 2009 Washington Symposium
January 15, leading thinkers, scientists, and policymakers convened in
Washington, D.C. to discuss the significance of 2009 for the Earth's
climate. Authors of State of the World 2009: Into a Warming World
engaged an audience of more than 150 people on the state
of the science, the gaps between science and policy, and practical
solutions to help avert the worst effects of climate change -- all in
advance of critical climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Christopher Flavin, moderator
Janet Sawin, Senior Researcher, Worldwatch Institute
Satu Hassi, Member of the European Parliament
Malini Mehra, Founder, Centre for Social Markets, India
Yingling Liu, China Program Manager, Worldwatch Institute
Final Action on All Proposed Rules Suspended Pending Legal and Policy Review
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel Tuesday sent a memo to
the heads of all executive departments and agencies, ordering a stop to
all pending regulations until a legal and policy review can be
conducted by the Obama administration.
A rule that would eliminate Endangered Species Act protections for
wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains except for those in Wyoming was
scheduled to be published on January 27. Now it will fall under review
with the new administration.
Among others, the Bush administration recently finalized rules that
significantly weaken the Endangered Species Act, allow for mining
deposits to be dumped within 100 feet of flowing streams and exempts
large-scale factory farms from notifying government officials when they
release unsafe levels of toxic emissions into the community.
Earthjustice, a public interest law firm, filed suit against all of
The following statement is from Patti Goldman, Vice President of Program for Earthjustice:
"While we are pleased that the new administration has put a stop to
these hasty actions, there are some rules we continue to monitor.
"Under the Emanuel memo, the wolf delisting rule will be
withdrawn. This rule was extremely controversial and was rushed through
even though a federal district court had declared the wolf delisting
illegal in July. It defied the law which prohibits a state by state
listing when the wolves do not respect state boundaries.
"For the vast majority of the midnight regulations, the Bush
administration got them published in time to evade the Emanuel memo's
freeze. Earthjustice has brought dozens of legal challenges to Bush
rollbacks, which provides the ultimate pathway to reining in the
excesses of the Bush administration."
Obama issues Executive Order regarding presidential records
President Obama issues executive order allowing invocation of executive privilege only by President when either the Attorney General or the Counsel to the President believes invocation is justified.
Executive Order -- Presidential Records
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the
laws of the United States of America, and in order to establish
policies and procedures governing the assertion of executive privilege
by incumbent and former Presidents in connection with the release of
Presidential records by the National Archives and Records
Administration (NARA) pursuant to the Presidential Records Act of 1978,
it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Definitions. For purposes of this order:
(a) "Archivist" refers to the Archivist of the United States or his designee.
(b) "NARA" refers to the National Archives and Records Administration.
(c) "Presidential Records Act" refers to the Presidential Records Act, 44 U.S.C. 2201-2207.
(d) "NARA regulations" refers to the NARA regulations implementing the Presidential Records Act, 36 C.F.R. Part 1270.
(e) "Presidential records" refers to those documentary materials
maintained by NARA pursuant to the Presidential Records Act, including
Vice Presidential records.
(f) "Former President" refers to the former President during whose
term or terms of office particular Presidential records were created.
(g) A "substantial question of executive privilege" exists if
NARA's disclosure of Presidential records might impair national
security (including the conduct of foreign relations), law enforcement,
or the deliberative processes of the executive branch.
(h) A "final court order" is a court order from which no appeal may be taken.
Sec. 2. Notice of Intent to Disclose Presidential Records.
(a) When the Archivist provides notice to the incumbent and former
Presidents of his intent to disclose Presidential records pursuant to
section 1270.46 of the NARA regulations, the Archivist, using any
guidelines provided by the incumbent and former Presidents, shall
identify any specific materials, the disclosure of which he believes
may raise a substantial question of executive privilege. However,
nothing in this order is intended to affect the right of the incumbent
or former Presidents to invoke executive privilege with respect to
materials not identified by the Archivist. Copies of the notice for
the incumbent President shall be delivered to the President (through
the Counsel to the President) and the Attorney General (through the
Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel). The copy
of the notice for the former President shall be delivered to the former
President or his designated representative.
(b) Upon the passage of 30 days after receipt by the incumbent and
former Presidents of a notice of intent to disclose Presidential
records, the Archivist may disclose the records covered by the notice,
unless during that time period the Archivist has received a claim of
executive privilege by the incumbent or former President or the
Archivist has been instructed by the incumbent President or his
designee to extend the time period for a time certain and with reason
for the extension of time provided in the notice. If a shorter period
of time is required under the circumstances set forth in section
1270.44 of the NARA regulations, the Archivist shall so indicate in the
Sec. 3. Claim of Executive Privilege by Incumbent President.
(a) Upon receipt of a notice of intent to disclose Presidential
records, the Attorney General (directly or through the Assistant
Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel) and the Counsel to
the President shall review as they deem appropriate the records covered
by the notice and consult with each other, the Archivist, and such
other executive agencies as they deem appropriate concerning whether
invocation of executive privilege is justified.
(b) The Attorney General and the Counsel to the President, in the
exercise of their discretion and after appropriate review and
consultation under subsection (a) of this section, may jointly
determine that invocation of executive privilege is not justified. The
Archivist shall be notified promptly of any such determination.
(c) If either the Attorney General or the Counsel to the President
believes that the circumstances justify invocation of executive
privilege, the issue shall be presented to the President by the Counsel
to the President and the Attorney General.
(d) If the President decides to invoke executive privilege, the
Counsel to the President shall notify the former President, the
Archivist, and the Attorney General in writing of the claim of
privilege and the specific Presidential records to which it relates.
After receiving such notice, the Archivist shall not disclose the
privileged records unless directed to do so by an incumbent President
or by a final court order.
Sec. 4. Claim of Executive Privilege by Former President.
(a) Upon receipt of a claim of executive privilege by a living
former President, the Archivist shall consult with the Attorney General
(through the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal
Counsel), the Counsel to the President, and such other executive
agencies as the Archivist deems appropriate concerning the Archivist's
determination as to whether to honor the former President's claim of
privilege or instead to disclose the Presidential records
notwithstanding the claim of privilege. Any determination under
section 3 of this order that executive privilege shall not be invoked
by the incumbent President shall not prejudice the Archivist's
determination with respect to the former President's claim of privilege.
(b) In making the determination referred to in subsection (a) of
this section, the Archivist shall abide by any instructions given him
by the incumbent President or his designee unless otherwise directed by
a final court order. The Archivist shall notify the incumbent and
former Presidents of his determination at least 30 days prior to
disclosure of the Presidential records, unless a shorter time period is
required in the circumstances set forth in section 1270.44 of the NARA
regulations. Copies of the notice for the incumbent President shall be
delivered to the President (through the Counsel to the President) and
the Attorney General (through the Assistant Attorney General for the
Office of Legal Counsel). The copy of the notice for the former
President shall be delivered to the former President or his designated
Sec. 5. General Provisions.
(a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) authority granted by law to a department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and
Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right
or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity
by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or
entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 6. Revocation. Executive Order 13233 of November 1, 2001, is revoked.
Obama issues Executive Order closing revolving door
President Obama has issued an executive order tightening the ethics rules that apply to presidential appointees. Link The full text appears below:
Executive Order -- Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the
laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3,
United States Code, and sections 3301 and 7301 of title 5, United
States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Ethics Pledge. Every appointee in every executive
agency appointed on or after January 20, 2009, shall sign, and upon
signing shall be contractually committed to, the following pledge upon
becoming an appointee:
"As a condition, and in consideration, of my employment in the
United States Government in a position invested with the public trust,
I commit myself to the following obligations, which I understand are
binding on me and are enforceable under law:
"1. Lobbyist Gift Ban. I will not accept gifts from registered
lobbyists or lobbying organizations for the duration of my service as
"2. Revolving Door Ban All Appointees Entering Government. I
will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment
participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is
directly and substantially related to my former employer or former
clients, including regulations and contracts.
"3. Revolving Door Ban Lobbyists Entering Government. If I was
a registered lobbyist within the 2 years before the date of my
appointment, in addition to abiding by the limitations of paragraph 2,
I will not for a period of 2 years after the date of my appointment:
(a) participate in any particular matter on which I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment;
(b) participate in the specific issue area in which that particular matter falls; or
(c) seek or accept employment with any executive agency that I lobbied within the 2 years before the date of my appointment.
"4. Revolving Door Ban Appointees Leaving Government. If, upon
my departure from the Government, I am covered by the post employment
restrictions on communicating with employees of my former executive
agency set forth in section 207(c) of title 18, United States Code, I
agree that I will abide by those restrictions for a period of 2 years
following the end of my appointment.
"5. Revolving Door Ban Appointees Leaving Government to Lobby.
In addition to abiding by the limitations of paragraph 4, I also agree,
upon leaving Government service, not to lobby any covered executive
branch official or non career Senior Executive Service appointee for
the remainder of the Administration.
"6. Employment Qualification Commitment. I agree that any hiring
or other employment decisions I make will be based on the candidate's
qualifications, competence, and experience.
"7. Assent to Enforcement. I acknowledge that the Executive Order
entitled 'Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel,' issued by
the President on January 21, 2009, which I have read before signing
this document, defines certain of the terms applicable to the foregoing
obligations and sets forth the methods for enforcing them. I expressly
accept the provisions of that Executive Order as a part of this
agreement and as binding on me. I understand that the terms of this
pledge are in addition to any statutory or other legal restrictions
applicable to me by virtue of Federal Government service."
Sec. 2. Definitions. As used herein and in the pledge set forth in section 1 of this order:
(a) "Executive agency" shall include each "executive agency" as
defined by section 105 of title 5, United States Code, and shall
include the Executive Office of the President; provided, however, that
for purposes of this order "executive agency" shall include the United
States Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission, but shall
exclude the Government Accountability Office.
(b) "Appointee" shall include every full time, non career
Presidential or Vice-Presidential appointee, non career appointee in
the Senior Executive Service (or other SES type system), and appointee
to a position that has been excepted from the competitive service by
reason of being of a confidential or policymaking character (Schedule C
and other positions excepted under comparable criteria) in an executive
agency. It does not include any person appointed as a member of the
Senior Foreign Service or solely as a uniformed service commissioned
(1) shall have the definition set forth in section 2635.203(b) of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations;
(2) shall include gifts that are solicited or accepted indirectly
as defined at section 2635.203(f) of title 5, Code of Federal
(3) shall exclude those items excluded by sections 2635.204(b),
(c), (e)(1) & (3) and (j) (l) of title 5, Code of Federal
(d) "Covered executive branch official" and "lobbyist" shall have
the definitions set forth in section 1602 of title 2, United States
(e) "Registered lobbyist or lobbying organization" shall mean a
lobbyist or an organization filing a registration pursuant to section
1603(a) of title 2, United States Code, and in the case of an
organization filing such a registration, "registered lobbyist" shall
include each of the lobbyists identified therein.
(f) "Lobby" and "lobbied" shall mean to act or have acted as a registered lobbyist.
(g) "Particular matter" shall have the same meaning as set forth in
section 207 of title 18, United States Code, and section 2635.402(b)(3)
of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations.
(h) "Particular matter involving specific parties" shall have the
same meaning as set forth in section 2641.201(h) of title 5, Code of
Federal Regulations, except that it shall also include any meeting or
other communication relating to the performance of one's official
duties with a former employer or former client, unless the
communication applies to a particular matter of general applicability
and participation in the meeting or other event is open to all
(i) "Former employer" is any person for whom the appointee has
within the 2 years prior to the date of his or her appointment served
as an employee, officer, director, trustee, or general partner, except
that "former employer" does not include any executive agency or other
entity of the Federal Government, State or local government, the
District of Columbia, Native American tribe, or any United States
territory or possession.
(j) "Former client" is any person for whom the appointee served
personally as agent, attorney, or consultant within the 2 years prior
to the date of his or her appointment, but excluding instances where
the service provided was limited to a speech or similar appearance. It
does not include clients of the appointee's former employer to whom the
appointee did not personally provide services.
(k) "Directly and substantially related to my former employer or
former clients" shall mean matters in which the appointee's former
employer or a former client is a party or represents a party.
(l) "Participate" means to participate personally and substantially.
(m) "Post-employment restrictions" shall include the provisions and
exceptions in section 207(c) of title 18, United States Code, and the
(n) "Government official" means any employee of the executive branch.
(o) "Administration" means all terms of office of the incumbent
President serving at the time of the appointment of an appointee
covered by this order.
(p) "Pledge" means the ethics pledge set forth in section 1 of this order.
(q) All references to provisions of law and regulations shall refer to such provisions as in effect on January 20, 2009.
Sec. 3. Waiver.
(a) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget, or his or
her designee, in consultation with the Counsel to the President or his
or her designee, may grant to any current or former appointee a written
waiver of any restrictions contained in the pledge signed by such
appointee if, and to the extent that, the Director of the Office of
Management and Budget, or his or her designee, certifies in writing (i)
that the literal application of the restriction is inconsistent with
the purposes of the restriction, or (ii) that it is in the public
interest to grant the waiver. A waiver shall take effect when the
certification is signed by the Director of the Office of Management and
Budget or his or her designee.
(b) The public interest shall include, but not be limited to,
exigent circumstances relating to national security or to the economy.
De minimis contact with an executive agency shall be cause for a waiver
of the restrictions contained in paragraph 3 of the pledge.
Sec. 4. Administration.
(a) The head of every executive agency shall, in consultation with
the Director of the Office of Government Ethics, establish such rules
or procedures (conforming as nearly as practicable to the agency's
general ethics rules and procedures, including those relating to
designated agency ethics officers) as are necessary or appropriate to
ensure that every appointee in the agency signs the pledge upon
assuming the appointed office or otherwise becoming an appointee; to
ensure that compliance with paragraph 3 of the pledge is addressed in a
written ethics agreement with each appointee to whom it applies, which
agreement shall also be approved by the Counsel to the President or his
or her designee prior to the appointee commencing work; to ensure that
spousal employment issues and other conflicts not expressly addressed
by the pledge are addressed in ethics agreements with appointees or,
where no such agreements are required, through ethics counseling; and
generally to ensure compliance with this order within the agency.
(b) With respect to the Executive Office of the President, the
duties set forth in section 4(a) shall be the responsibility of the
Counsel to the President or his or her designee.
(c) The Director of the Office of Government Ethics shall:
(1) ensure that the pledge and a copy of this order are made
available for use by agencies in fulfilling their duties under section
(2) in consultation with the Attorney General or the Counsel to
the President or their designees, when appropriate, assist designated
agency ethics officers in providing advice to current or former
appointees regarding the application of the pledge; and
(3) in consultation with the Attorney General and the Counsel to
the President or their designees, adopt such rules or procedures as are
necessary or appropriate:
(i) to carry out the foregoing responsibilities;
(ii) to apply the lobbyist gift ban set forth in paragraph 1 of the pledge to all executive branch employees;
(iii) to authorize limited exceptions to the lobbyist gift ban
for circumstances that do not implicate the purposes of the ban;
(iv) to make clear that no person shall have violated the
lobbyist gift ban if the person properly disposes of a gift as provided
by section 2635.205 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations;
(v) to ensure that existing rules and procedures for Government
employees engaged in negotiations for future employment with private
businesses that are affected by their official actions do not affect
the integrity of the Government's programs and operations;
(vi) to ensure, in consultation with the Director of the Office
of Personnel Management, that the requirement set forth in paragraph 6
of the pledge is honored by every employee of the executive branch;
(4) in consultation with the Director of the Office of Management
and Budget, report to the President on whether full compliance is being
achieved with existing laws and regulations governing executive branch
procurement lobbying disclosure and on steps the executive branch can
take to expand to the fullest extent practicable disclosure of such
executive branch procurement lobbying and of lobbying for presidential
pardons, and to include in the report both immediate action the
executive branch can take and, if necessary, recommendations for
(5) provide an annual public report on the administration of the pledge and this order.
(d) The Director of the Office of Government Ethics shall, in
consultation with the Attorney General, the Counsel to the President,
and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, or their
designees, report to the President on steps the executive branch can
take to expand to the fullest extent practicable the revolving door ban
set forth in paragraph 5 of the pledge to all executive branch
employees who are involved in the procurement process such that they
may not for 2 years after leaving Government service lobby any
Government official regarding a Government contract that was under
their official responsibility in the last 2 years of their Government
service; and to include in the report both immediate action the
executive branch can take and, if necessary, recommendations for
(e) All pledges signed by appointees, and all waiver certifications
with respect thereto, shall be filed with the head of the appointee's
agency for permanent retention in the appointee's official personnel
folder or equivalent folder.
Sec. 5. Enforcement.
(a) The contractual, fiduciary, and ethical commitments in the
pledge provided for herein are solely enforceable by the United States
pursuant to this section by any legally available means, including
debarment proceedings within any affected executive agency or judicial
civil proceedings for declaratory, injunctive, or monetary relief.
(b) Any former appointee who is determined, after notice and
hearing, by the duly designated authority within any agency, to have
violated his or her pledge may be barred from lobbying any officer or
employee of that agency for up to 5 years in addition to the time
period covered by the pledge. The head of every executive agency
shall, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Government
Ethics, establish procedures to implement this subsection, which
procedures shall include (but not be limited to) providing for
factfinding and investigation of possible violations of this order and
for referrals to the Attorney General for his or her consideration
pursuant to subsection (c).
(c) The Attorney General or his or her designee is authorized:
(1) upon receiving information regarding the possible breach of
any commitment in a signed pledge, to request any appropriate Federal
investigative authority to conduct such investigations as may be
(2) upon determining that there is a reasonable basis to believe that
a breach of a commitment has occurred or will occur or continue, if not
enjoined, to commence a civil action against the former employee in any
United States District Court with jurisdiction to consider the matter.
(d) In any such civil action, the Attorney General or his or her
designee is authorized to request any and all relief authorized by law,
including but not limited to:
(1) such temporary restraining orders and preliminary and
permanent injunctions as may be appropriate to restrain future,
recurring, or continuing conduct by the former employee in breach of
the commitments in the pledge he or she signed; and
(2) establishment of a constructive trust for the benefit of the
United States, requiring an accounting and payment to the United States
Treasury of all money and other things of value received by, or payable
to, the former employee arising out of any breach or attempted breach
of the pledge signed by the former employee.
Sec. 6. General Provisions.
(a) No prior Executive Orders are repealed by this order. To the
extent that this order is inconsistent with any provision of any prior
Executive Order, this order shall control.
(b) If any provision of this order or the application of such
provision is held to be invalid, the remainder of this order and other
dissimilar applications of such provision shall not be affected.
(c) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(1) authority granted by law to a department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(2) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and
Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(d) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(e) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right
or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity
by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or
entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
(f) The definitions set forth in this order are solely applicable
to the terms of this order, and are not otherwise intended to impair or
affect existing law.
Antarctic warming over larger area than previously believed
Today Nature published correspondence reporting a study by Steig and colleagues showing that much of the Antarctic ice-sheet has been warming since 1957. Previous studies had only documented warming in a small area of Antarctica. Obviously, if a greater area of Antarctica is warming, that increases the feedback effects caused by loss of reflection from the ice and that makes it more likely that Antarctic ice will contribute to a substantial change in sea level. Antarctic warming 1957-2006
FIGURE 2. Reconstructed annual mean Antarctic temperature anomalies, January 1957 to December 2006.
a, East Antarctica; b,
West Antarctica. Solid black lines show results from reconstruction
using infrared satellite data, averaged over all grid points for each
region. Dashed lines show the average of reconstructed AWS data in each
region. Straight red lines show average trends of the TIR reconstruction. Verification results for the continental mean of the TIR reconstruction are RE = 0.34, CE = 0.31 and r = 0.73. Grey shading, 95% confidence limits.
I like this agenda -- some straight-forward, not at all novel, ideas that resonate with me. Green America link
Solutions from the Green Economy January 15, 2008
Everyone now understands that the economy is broken.
While many name the mortgage and credit-default-swap crises as
culprits, they are only the most recent indicators of an economy with
fatal design flaws. Our economy has long been based on what economist
Herman Daly calls “uneconomic growth” where increases in the GDP come
at an expense in resources and well-being that is worth more than the
goods and services provided. When GNP growth exacerbates social and
environmental problems—from sweatshop labor to manufacturing toxic
chemicals—every dollar of GNP growth reduces well-being for people and
the planet, and we’re all worse off.
Our fatally flawed
economy creates economic injustice, poverty, and environmental crises.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can create a green economy: one that
serves people and the planet and offers antidotes to the current
Here are six green-economy solutions to today’s economic mess.
1. Green Energy—Green Jobs
A crucial starting place to rejuvenate our economy is to focus on
energy. It’s time to call in the superheroes of the green energy
revolution—energy efficiency, solar and wind power, and plug-in
hybrids—and put their synergies to work with rapid, large-scale
deployment. This is a powerful way to jumpstart the economy, spur job
creation (with jobs that can’t be outsourced), declare energy
independence, and claim victory over the climate crisis.
2. Clean Energy Victory Bonds
How are we going to pay for this green energy revolution? We at Green
America propose Clean Energy Victory Bonds. Modeled after victory bonds
in World War II, Americans would buy these bonds from the federal
government to invest in large-scale deployment of green energy
projects, with particular emphasis in low-income communities hardest
hit by the broken economy. These would be long-term bonds, paying an
annual interest rate, based in part on the energy and energy savings
that the bonds generate. During WWII, 85 million Americans bought over
$185 billion in bonds—that would be almost $2 trillion in today’s
3. Reduce, Reuse, Rethink
Living lightly on the Earth, saving resources and money, and sharing
(jobs, property, ideas, and opportunities) are crucial principles for
restructuring our economy. This economic breakdown is, in part, due to
living beyond our means—as a nation and as individuals. With the
enormous national and consumer debt weighing us down, we won’t be able
to spend our way out of this economic problem. Ultimately, we need an
economy that’s not dependent on unsustainable growth and consumerism.
So it’s time to rethink our over-consumptive lifestyles, and turn to
the principles of elegant simplicity, such as planting gardens,
conserving energy, and working cooperatively with our neighbors to
share resources and build resilient communities.
4. Go Green and Local
When we do buy, it is essential that those purchases benefit the green
and local economy—so that every dollar helps solve social and
environmental problems, not create them. Our spending choices matter.
We can support our local communities by moving dollars away from
conventional agribusiness and big-box stores and toward supporting
local workers, businesses, and organic farmers.
5. Community Investing
All over the country, community investing banks, credit unions, and
loan funds that serve hard-hit communities are strong, while the
biggest banks required bailouts. The basic principles of community
investing keep such institutions strong: Lenders and borrowers know
each other. Lenders invest in the success of their borrowers—with
training and technical assistance along with loans. And the people who
provide the capital to the lenders expect reasonable, not speculative,
returns. If all banks followed these principles, the economy wouldn’t
be in the mess it’s in today.
6. Shareowner Activism When you own stock, you have the right and responsibility to
advise management to clean up its act. Had GM listened to shareholders
warning that relying on SUVs would be its downfall, it would have
invested in greener technologies, and would not have needed a bailout.
Had CitiGroup listened to its shareowners, it would have avoided the
faulty mortgage practices that brought it to its knees. Engaged
shareholders are key to reforming conventional companies for the
transition to this new economy – the green economy that we are building
Here's a letter from the US Conference of the World Council of Churches to President Obama, seeking to help set the Presidential agenda. From the inaugural speech, his agenda is consistent with that of the faith communities represented, but thankfully far more ambitious!
The President The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave Washington, D.C.
20 January 2009
Dear Mr President,
We greet you as your sisters and brothers in
Christ, especially because you have been a part of the fellowship of
the World Council of Churches, representing over 560 million Christians
in nearly 350 churches, denominations, and church fellowships in more
than 110 countries and territories throughout the world. You are
constantly in our prayers.
We want you to know of the excitement about your
inauguration as the 44th President of the United States felt by us and
so many around the world, who are encouraged by your commitment to
rekindle hope and your vision for this country and our world. We are
especially inspired by how you have engaged our youth, moving them to
action and signaling the real possibility that another world is
possible, and that they can be among those from whom ideas and
leadership are sought over the course of your administration.
We also share the soberness of the present time as
you take office. The challenges are enormous and formidable. They are
found in every sector of this society and, indeed, across the entire
spectrum of the human family worldwide. So many people in this world of
abundance struggle with poverty; we are called by God to address the
needs of the poor. So many places of this world are broken by violence
and war; we are called by Christ to be peacemakers.
Ours is not to point fingers at your new
administration and say “Fix it.” Rather, ours is to roll up our sleeves
and partner with you to help bring about the changes that are so
desperately needed for the United States and the world to more closely
reflect God’s vision for humankind and all of creation. Ours is to call
us all into account when we do not follow that vision.
It is a vision described by the prophet Micah, and
it reflects our deep hope for this country and for all the countries of
…nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore; but they shall all sit under
their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make
them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken” (Micah
The prophet’s words lift up the kind of peace that
goes beyond the cessation of war to that of true shalom. They describe
the kind of peace that is built on a foundation of trust and security.
Micah’s vision implies a world in which creation is thriving and
everyone has enough. It implies a world of justice, where we treat one
another as the beloved children of God.
Much is required of you and us if we are to begin to turn things around. We must take responsibility for and work together to:
Repair the breach of trust between individuals and entire nations, and replenish goodwill with our neighbors near and far;
Re-collect us back together, not as red and blue states, but as the United States of America;
Rekindle and lift up the common good over self-interest and greed;
Restore the sense of human dignity of each person regardless of race or class;
our own complicity in building a predatory economy on the backs of
those most vulnerable, and reconstruct an economy with an emphasis not
just on the middle class, but on the poor;
Renew a concrete, measurable commitment to human rights;
Rebuild an education system that attends to the needs of all of society;
Replenish God’s good creation in whatever ways possible;
Recommit ourselves to the right of every person to have access to health care.
its member churches, the World Council of Churches is a unique space:
one in which we can reflect, speak, act, worship and work together,
challenge and support each other, share and debate with each other. We
hope to share a similar space with you and your administration and
welcome the opportunity to work together for this common vision of the
May you hold onto those things that have tended
your soul up to this point. May you always find Sabbath time for
yourself and your family. May you draw deeply on the faith that has
brought you safe thus far. May you be lifted up when you are down, and
may you listen carefully for the still small voice of the God who loves
We close with a pastoral prayer by Martin Luther King, Jr, whose words in 1956 are most fitting as we step into this new day:
O God, our Heavenly Father, we thank thee for this
golden privilege to worship thee, the only true God of the universe. We
come to thee today, grateful that thou hast kept us through the long
night of the past and ushered us into the challenge of the present and
the bright hope of the future. We are mindful, O God, that man [sic]
cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of things and humanity
is not God. Bound by our chains of sins and finiteness, we know we need
a Savior. We thank thee, O God, for the spiritual nature of man. We are
in nature but we live above nature. Help us never to let anybody or any
condition pull us so low as to cause us to hate. Give us strength to
love our enemies and to do good to those who despitefully use us and
persecute us. We thank thee for thy Church, founded upon thy Word, that
challenges us to do more than sing and pray, but go out and work as
though the very answer to our prayers depended on us and not upon thee.
Then, finally, help us to realize that man was created to shine like
stars and live on through all eternity. Keep us, we pray, in perfect
peace, help us to walk together, pray together, sing together, and live
together until that day when all God’s children, Black, White, Red,
Brown, Yellow will rejoice in one common band of humanity in the
kingdom of our Lord and of our God, we pray. Amen.
In Christ’s Service,
The Rev. Dr Bernice Powell Jackson
Moderator, United States Conference for the World Council of Churches
& Members of the Board, United States Conference for the World Council of Churches
Members of the Board, Heads of Churches1 & Associate Members United States Conference for the World Council of Churches
Greenwire reported on the Madrid meeting next week that will be examining progress on addressing the worldwide food crisis -- where one of every seven people in the world is hungry. What a wonderful time to begin to make a difference! Although the crisis in food prices that fueled the Rome discussions last summer has abated, the long-term problem remains. And, if the Administration is swift and sure-footed enough, President Obama can use the discussions in Madrid to signal that the United States is serious about fulfilling his inaugeral promises:
UNITED NATIONS -- One of President Barack Obama's first forays into
into multilateral diplomacy will be following up on a food crisis that
engulfed the world's poorest countries last year. Though
food prices have fallen sharply in recent months, diplomats will gather
Monday in Madrid to see whether they are keeping their promises of food
aid and support for agricultural development made at U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) talks in Rome last June. "The
Madrid meeting will raise the political profile of food security," said
David Nabarro, coordinator of a U.N. task force established last year
by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to address the crisis. "The food
systems of the world have been in crisis, continue to be in crisis and
will go on being in crisis until we're able to create a situation where
they work in the interests of poor people."
estimate that about 1 billion people are undernourished and at least
100 million would face imminent starvation were it not for emergency
food assistance. Last year, record oil prices, burgeoning demand for
food, and failing crops contributed to a upward spiral in the price of
most food basics, especially rice, wheat and corn.
farm income rose by about 50 percent during the boom, but most of the
world suffered. Food prices have since plunged, but Nabarro told
reporters here yesterday that food commodities are still much more
expensive than they were in decades past. And officials
fear that under-investment in agriculture expected during the current
market slump is only setting the stage for greater problems down the
road. "The food crisis is not the story that's on the tip
of everybody's tongue right now. It's the financial crisis," said J.B.
Reed of the nonprofit Nuru Project, which staged a New York photography
exhibit last month showing images of starving people and Third World
food riots. "But the financial crisis has implications for the food
Average food prices more than doubled worldwide
over three years. Farm subsidies in wealthy countries, the popularity
of biofuels and market speculators were among the culprits blamed. But
a long neglect of the importance of Third World agricultural
productivity by organizations like the World Bank, the International
Monetary Fund and the U.S. Agency for International Development
contributed greatly. For 20 years, aid efforts have
focused mostly on industrial infrastructure, figuring the developing
world could simply import cheap food grown efficiently in the West.
Agriculture enjoyed about 20 percent of international aid dollars back
in the late 1980s, but skewed priorities have shrunk its share to just
barely 3 percent today. FAO estimates that by mid-2008
food prices were 64 percent higher than 2002 levels. The only other
time prices shot up so quickly was in the wake of the oil shock of the
In total, governments pledged about $6.6 billion in
new spending on food aid and agriculture programs in Rome last year.
The lion's share of commitments came from Washington, which pledged to
spend $5 billion over the next two years. Since then, the
global financial crisis has diverted hundreds of billions of dollars in
government resources to shoring up banks and protecting deposits.
Meanwhile, collapsed commodity prices and rising food stocks have
largely eliminated any sense of urgency. "Actually, most
countries that pledged in Rome have followed up, but the follow-up has
been a lot slower than we would like," Nabarro said. "One of the things
we will be doing in Madrid is tracking that follow-up." Experts
who have stayed focused on food security issues worry that the
financial crisis will affect future food production more than many
appreciate. Falling prices and weaker demand mean farmers in developed
countries have little incentive to grow more this year. And the tight
credit environment makes it difficult for farmers to finance expanded
yields even if they wanted to....
leaders have said that between $20 billion and $40 billion in new
annual spending on agriculture is needed over the next several years to
keep up with population growth and expanding demand as nations like
India and China grow richer. Nabarro said he hopes at least some new
commitments for additional spending will materialize in Madrid, with
the new Obama administration playing a lead role. "We take
a view that in a world where 14 percent of the population remains
hungry ... that is an extremely unsatisfactory situation," Nabarro
said. "That is a representation of a crisis."
costs give public policymakers some breathing room as they focus on
halting the decline in the global economy, which began in the developed
world but is now hitting developing countries hard, as well.
Agricultural economists predict that prices for most food commodities
will stay low for much or all of 2009. "World production
of wheat, maize and rice is expected to exceed demand and contribute to
a partial replenishment of stocks," experts with the U.N. Department of
Economic and Social Affairs say in their latest global economic outlook. But
economists warn that once the financial system recovers, so will food
markets. And price declines over the last few months still don't make
up for much of the increases experienced over three years. The World
Food Programme's budget for 2009 is estimated at $5.2 billion, a record....
Most of the green team confirmed today: Jackson, Sutley, and Clinton remain
E & E News reported:
The Senate unanimously confirmed seven of President Barack Obama's
Cabinet picks today, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack,
Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, but
postponed debate on his nominees to lead the State Department, U.S. EPA
and White House Council on Environmental Quality...In a
post-inauguration session, the Senate quickly approved Chu, Salazar,
Vilsack, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Homeland Security Secretary
Janet Napolitano, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Office
of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) also scheduled a 3 p.m. roll call
vote for tomorrow on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Obama's
nominee to be secretary of the State Department.... The
Senate did not take up two other Obama nominations: Lisa Jackson to be
the next EPA administrator and Nancy Sutley to be the chairwoman of the
White House CEQ. Both nominees did not face significant scrutiny during
their confirmation hearings last week, leaving several Senate
Republican and Democratic leadership aides today searching for answers
about who was holding up the two Obama environmental picks....Andrew
Wheeler, Republican staff director for the Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee, said ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.)
supports both nominees and isn't sure who raised the objection to
Jackson and Sutley's confirmations, though he said the objection to
Sutley being confirmed today was because her position is not
Today I had the pleasure as Director of our law school's Certificate Program in Law and Government to host two visitors from Mozambique through the International Leadership Visitor Program funded by the State Department. This program focuses on bringing emerging leaders from developing countries concerned with good governance to the United States, to expose them first-hand to various aspects of American governance. Last year, we hosted 16 visitors from more than a dozen African countries. Today's session was more informal and a bit more manageable.
Our visitors were the Governor of a northern province and the second in command of a major department within the national government. They were interested in learning how the United States trains its graduate or advanced students in law and government. We were able to share some aspects of our program, including attending and speaking with my first year Lawmaking Process class. They were also fascinated by how the United States is evolving with its election of President Obama.
The treat, of course, for me was to learn first-hand something about Mozambique, its politics and policy, and role in Africa. Certainly, its thorough integration of woman into the power structure and into all aspects of administration is a lesson for Americans as well as other Africans. This is beginning to happen here, witness Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, the corps of talented Governors through the US and the league of women joining the Obama administration. But, until a woman stands where President Obama stood today, we still lag behind virtually every developed country in the world -- and many, such as Mozambique, in the developed world. Women took their place in the struggle for independence in Mozambique -- even on the battlefield. They have continued to serve in Parliament and throughout government, with stature and an assured equality that American woman still lack.
Their challenge is to solidify their independence and their emerging democracy -- and to solve the problem of poverty. There, President Obama gave them reason to hope: "To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our boders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it."
As you who read this blog regularly no doubt realize, these words, especially about providing clean water and reducing our consumption of resources, were music to my ears. And perhaps to yours.
We have a President who in the midst of the raging storms of the failure of our economy and two wars, understands that "each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet." That the work to be done includes the promise that "[w]e will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories." That "we will work tirelessly...to roll back the specter of a warming planet."
As my new friends from Mozambique realize, President Obama has not become just an American president, but he is today the most important leader of the whole world. Not just by virtue of our relative prosperity and military power, but by virtue of our willingness to turn the page of history and to pledge to live up to our responsibilities to people seeking peace and justice and equality and means to enjoy their full measure of happiness throughout the world.
Today, my friends, let us celebrate with all of our new friends...and pledge ourselves to making this vision become a reality, in law, in policy, and in how we conduct our obscure, everyday lives.
Co-sponsored by The Environmental Law Institute The American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources The National Association of Environmental Law Societies
The Constitution has long been interpreted by the courts and understood by most Americans to support comprehensive environmental protections. However, arguments targeting the constitutional legitimacy of environmental laws continue to gain traction in the federal courts. To inform the debate, we invite law students to submit papers exploring current issues of constitutional environmental law.
AWARD: $2000 cash prize and an offer of publication in the Environmental Law Reporter.
TOPIC: Any topic addressing recent developments or trends in U.S. environmental law that have a significant constitutional or “federalism” component. (See sample topics below.)
ELIGIBILITY: Students currently enrolled in law school (in the U.S. or abroad) are eligible, including students who will graduate in the spring or summer of 2009. Any relevant article, case comment, note, or essay may be submitted, including writing submitted for academic credit. Jointly authored pieces are eligible only if all authors are students and consent to submit. Previously published pieces, or pieces that are already slated for publication, are ineligible.
DEADLINE: Entries must be received no later than 5:00 PM ET on April 6, 2009. Email essays (and questions) to Lisa Goldman at email@example.com. You will receive a confirmation by email.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Cover page. This page must include the following information: • Title; • Author’s name, year in law school, and expected graduation date (to facilitate impartial judging, the author’s name and law school must NOT appear anywhere in the essay, other than on the cover page); • Law school name and address; • Author’s permanent and school mailing address, email address, and phone number (IMPORTANT: indicate effective dates for all addresses); • Abstract (limited to 100 words) describing the piece; • Certification that the article has not been published and is not slated for future publication (while authors may submit their articles to other competitions, publication elsewhere will disqualify an entry from further consideration); and • Statement as to where the author(s) learned about this competition
Format. Submissions may be of any length up to a maximum of 50 pages (including footnotes), in a double-spaced, 8.5 x 11-inch page format with 12-point font (10-point for footnotes). Citation style must conform to the Bluebook. Submissions must be made by email attachment in Microsoft Word format, with the cover page as a separate attachment.
CRITERIA AND PUBLICATION: The prize will be awarded to the student work that, in the judgment of ELI, ABA-SEER, and NAELS, best informs the debate on a current topic of constitutional environmental law and advances the state of scholarship. ELI reserves the right to determine that no submission will receive the prize. While only one cash prize is available, ELI may decide to extend multiple offers of publication in the Environmental Law Reporter.
For more about ELI and its Endangered Environmental Laws Program, including past writing competitions, please visit www.eli.org and www.endangeredlaws.org. Information about ABA/SEER may be found at www.abanet.org/environ/. Information about NAELS may be found at www.naels.org.
SAMPLE TOPICS FOR THE 2008-09 ELI-ABA-NAELSWRITING COMPETITION Students may choose a topic from below or develop their own constitutional environmental law topic. 1) Challenges to environmental plaintiffs’ standing to be heard in federal courts– a) Standing to sue to enforce environmental laws. E.g., Earth Island Institute v. Ruthenbeck, 490 F.3d 687 (9th Cir. 2007), cert. granted, Summers v. Earth Island Institute, 128 S. Ct. 1118 (Jan. 18, 2008); implications of Massachusetts v. EPA, 549 U.S. 497 (2007), and progeny; Coalition for a Sustainable Delta v. Carlson, 2008 WL 2899725 (E.D. Cal. July 24, 2008). b) Standing to sue for “increased risk of harm.” E.g., implications for environmental protection of an ever-higher bar in the D.C. Circuit for establishing standing in risk-based injury cases. See Public Citizen v. NHTSA, 513 F.3d 234 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (Sentelle, C.J., concurring) and 489 F.3d 1279 (D.C. Cir. 2007); NRDC v. EPA, 440 F.3d 476 (D.C. Cir.), vacated, 464 F.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 2006). 2) Application to climate-change cases of other constitutional theories, such as statutory and foreign affairs preemption, political question doctrine, dormant Commerce Clause, and Compact Clause. E.g., possible challenges to regional cap-and-trade schemes, such as RGGI and the WCI; the impact of a future federal cap-and-trade law on state and regional climate frameworks; challenges to California’s tailpipe emissions regulations, as adopted by 16 other states; and efforts by states and local entities to recover damages from industry for contributions to global climate change. See Green Mountain Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Jeep v. Crombie, 508 F.Supp.2d 295 (D. Vt. 2007), appeal filed, No. 07-4342, -4360 (2d Cir.); Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep, Inc. v. Goldstene, 529 F. Supp. 2d 1151 (E.D. Cal. 2007), aff’d on reh’g, 563 F. Supp. 2d 1158 (E.D. Cal. 2008); Lincoln Dodge, Inc. v. Sullivan, 2008 WL 5054863 (D.R.I. Nov. 21, 2008); California v. General Motors Corp., 2007 WL 2726871 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 17, 2007), appeal filed, No. 07-16908 (9th Cir.); Comer v. Murphy Oil, No. 05-436 (S.D. Miss. Aug. 30, 2007) (granting motion to dismiss), appeal argued, No. 07-60756 (5th Cir. Nov. 3, 2008); Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co., 406 F.Supp.2d 265 (S.D.N.Y. 2005), appeal filed, No. 05-5104 (2d Cir.); and Kivalina v. Exxonmobil Corp., No. 08- 01138 (N.D. Cal. filed Feb. 26, 2008). 3) Legislative developments and potential court challenges to Congress’s authority under the Commerce Clause and other constitutional provisions (e.g., Spending Power, Property Clause, and Treaty Power) to afford comprehensive protection to the “waters of the United States.” E.g., Clean Water Restoration Act (H.R. 2421, S. 1870). In the wake of SWANCC v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 531 U.S. 159 (2001), and Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006), and the resulting confusion for Clean Water Act administration and enforcement, much of the debate over the constitutional reach of federal water protections has shifted from the federal courts to Congress. 4) Invocation of constitutional due process to cap punitive damages in environmental cases. See Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 128 S. Ct. 2605 (2008), establishing as an upper limit in maritime cases a 1:1 ratio between compensatory and punitive damages. Justice Ginsburg, writing separately, wondered if the Court intended to signal that this ratio would eventually become a ceiling imposed by due process. 5) Impact of preemption jurisprudence (including in non-environmental cases) on environmental protection. See Riegel v. Medtronic, Inc., 128 S. Ct. 999 (2008); Levine v. Wyeth, 944 A.2d 179 (Vt. 2006), cert. granted, Wyeth v. Levine, 128 S. Ct. 1118 (Jan. 18, 2008); Pacific Merchant Shipping Association v. Goldstene, 517 F.3d 1108 (9th Cir. 2008).
20 metre-high ice cliff forming the edge of the Wilkins Ice shelf on
the Antarctic Peninsula is seen from a plane January 18, 2009. Photo: Alister Doyle
ICE SHELF - A huge Antarctic ice shelf is on the brink of collapse with
just a sliver of ice holding it in place, the latest victim of global
warming that is altering maps of the frozen continent. "We've
come to the Wilkins Ice Shelf to see its final death throes," David
Vaughan, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), told
Reuters after the first -- and probably last -- plane landed near the
narrowest part of the ice. The flat-topped shelf has an area of
thousands of square kilometers, jutting 20 meters (65 ft) out of the
sea off the Antarctic Peninsula. But it is held together only by
an ever-thinning 40-km (25-mile) strip of ice that has eroded to an
hour-glass shape just 500 meters wide at its narrowest. In 1950, the strip was almost 100 km wide.
really could go at any minute," Vaughan said on slushy snow in bright
sunshine beside a red Twin Otter plane that landed on skis. He added
that the ice bridge could linger weeks or months.
once covered 16,000 sq km (6,000 sq miles). It has lost a third of its
area but is still about the size of Jamaica or the U.S. state of
Connecticut. Once the strip breaks up, the sea is likely to sweep away
much of the remaining ice. Icebergs the shape and size of
shopping malls already dot the sea around the shelf as it
disintegrates. Seals bask in the southern hemisphere summer sunshine on
icebergs by expanses of open water. A year ago, BAS said the
Wilkins was "hanging by a thread" after an aerial survey. "Miraculously
we've come back a summer later and it's still here. If it was hanging
by a thread last year, it's hanging by a filament this year," Vaughan
Nine other shelves have receded or collapsed around the
Antarctic peninsula in the past 50 years, often abruptly like the
Larsen A in 1995 or the Larsen B in 2002. The trend is widely blamed on
climate change caused by heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels.
ice shelf and the nine other shelves that we have seen with a similar
trajectory are a consequence of warming," Vaughan said. In total,
about 25,000 sq km of ice shelves have been lost, changing maps of
Antarctica. Ocean sediments indicate that some shelves had been in
place for at least 10,000 years.The shelf
is named after Australian George Hubert Wilkins, an early Antarctic
aviator who is set to join an exclusive club of people who have a part
of the globe named after them that later vanishes. Loss of ice
shelves does not raise sea levels significantly because the ice is
floating and already mostly submerged by the ocean. But the big worry
is that their loss will allow ice sheets on land to move faster, adding
extra water to the seas. Wilkins has almost no pent-up glaciers
behind it. But ice shelves further south hold back vast volumes of ice.
"When those are removed the glaciers will flow faster," Vaughan said.
on the Antarctic Peninsula have warmed by about 3 Celsius (5.4
Fahrenheit) since 1950, the fastest rise in the southern hemisphere.
There is little sign of warming elsewhere in Antarctica. The U.N. Climate
Panel, of which Vaughan is a senior member, projected in 2007 that
world sea levels were likely to rise by between 18 and 59 cm (7 and 23
inches) this century. But it did not factor in any possible
acceleration of ice loss from Antarctica. Even a small change in the
rate could affect sea levels, and Antarctica's ice sheets contain
enough water in total to raise world sea levels by 57 meters.
Obama carries amazing level of good will into presidency
Two polls I've read today suggest that Obama is carrying an amazing level of goodwill into his presidency, both from the American people and internationally.
The first is the PIPA World Opinion Poll. It reports:
As Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in as the 44th president of the
United States, a new 17-nation poll conducted for the BBC World Service
finds widespread and growing optimism that his presidency will lead to
improved relations between the United States and the rest of the world. The poll also shows people around the world are looking to
President Obama to put highest priority on dealing with the current
global financial crisis. In 15 of the 17 countries polled, majorities think that the
election of Barack Obama will lead to improved relations with the rest
of the world. On average 67 per cent express this upbeat view, while 19
per cent think relations will stay the same and just 5 per cent that
relations will worsen. This is up sharply - by 21 points among tracking countries - from
polling done for the BBC World Service six months ago, before Obama was
elected. At that time just 47 per cent expressed optimism that an Obama
presidency would lead to improved relations with the rest of the world.
The number of people giving no answer to the question is also down
Asked to rate six possible priorities for the Obama
Administration, the top priority in all countries polled was the global
financial crisis. On average 72 per cent said that it should be a top
priority. This was followed by withdrawing US troops from Iraq - with 50 per
cent saying this should be a top priority - then addressing climate
change (46%), improving America's relationship with the respondent's
country (46%), brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians
(43%), and supporting the government of Afghanistan against the Taliban
Obviously, the priority of the American people is the economy. And a recent NY Times poll suggests that we're both optimistic that Obama can improve the economy and willing to give him
time to succeed.
President-elect Barack Obama
is riding a powerful wave of optimism into the White House, with
Americans confident he can turn the economy around but prepared to give
him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces starting Tuesday,
according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll. While hopes for the new president are extraordinarily high, the
poll found, expectations for what Mr. Obama will actually be able to
accomplish appear to have been tempered by the scale of the nation’s
problems at home and abroad. The findings suggest that Mr. Obama has achieved some success with
his effort, which began with his victory speech in Chicago in November,
to gird Americans for a slow economic recovery and difficult years
ahead after a campaign that generated striking enthusiasm and high
hopes for change. Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving
the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq
— three of the central promises of Mr. Obama’s campaign — for at least
two years. The poll found that two-thirds of respondents think the
recession will last two years or longer.
As the nation prepares for a transfer of power and the inauguration
of its 44th president, Mr. Obama’s stature with the American public
stands in sharp contrast to that of President Bush.Mr. Bush is leaving office with just 22 percent of Americans
offering a favorable view of how he handled the eight years of his
presidency, a record low, and firmly identified with the economic
crisis Mr. Obama is inheriting. More than 80 percent of respondents
said the nation was in worse shape today than it was five years ago.
contrast, 79 percent were optimistic about the next four years
under Mr. Obama, a level of good will for a new chief executive that
exceeds that measured for any of the past five incoming presidents. And
it cuts across party lines: 58 percent of the respondents who said they
voted for Mr. Obama’s opponent in the general election, Senator John McCain of Arizona, said they were optimistic about the country in an Obama administration.... [Obama's] favorable rating, at 60 percent, is the highest it has been
since the Times/CBS News poll began asking about him. Overwhelming
majorities say they think that Mr. Obama will be a good president, that
he will bring real change to Washington, and that he will make the
right decisions on the economy, Iraq, dealing with the war in the
Middle East and protecting the country from terrorist attacks. Over 70
percent said they approved of his cabinet selections.
This is good. I think its safe to say that no President has ever faced greater challenges in entering the Presidency. Good luck, Mr. President!