President Obama began today a major, and long-overdue shift in US energy and environmental policy, and a reassertion of American leadership on international issues such as climate change. As he said in his Inaugural Address:
We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories…. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet…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 borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
His nominees for Secretary of Energy, Nobel laureate Steven Chu, for Interior, Ken Salazar, and for head of the EPA, Lisa Jackson, are already well on their way to Senate confirmation. Carol Browner, who directed the EPA under the Clinton administration will oversee climate-change policy out of Obama’s White House; and Nancy Sutley, a deputy Los Angeles mayor will run the White House Council on Environmental Quality. As a group, they could not be more different from their equivalents in the lost Bush years.
Let us wish all of them every success.