Changing the DC climate

By MIKE MILIARD  |  December 18, 2008

Creating this "energy czar" position proves that "global warming and the environment are at the top of [Obama's] agenda," says Oko, who notes that Browner "has the personality that's going to be required to work among different agencies and really be a leader, bringing groups together to help put into action what Obama has indicated are these big priorities for him." (And, not for nothing, Browner raises the hackles of such conservatives as columnist Michelle Malkin — who calls her a "neon green radical" — which can be only a good sign.)

Rounding out the environmental team is NANCY SUTLEY, who's slated to chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Sutley, who has spent most of her career in California and boasts an impressive rûsumû — she has extensive experience dealing with such crises as water shortages and rolling blackouts — is well-positioned to respond to the unique challenges of the 21st century. She "has a long-time record of really being a leader on environment and clean energy," says Sittenfeld. "So, again, yet another great choice. Not to sound like a broken record, but we're feeling very positive."

As of press time, one position that hadn't been officially announced is that of interior secretary. But it was presumed that the nominee would be Colorado senator KEN SALAZAR, a centrist Democrat who, before being elected to the Senate — where he serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee — was director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, where he earned high marks for land conservation. While a disappointment to some environmentalists (who were widely seen to favor another much-bruited candidate, Arizona representative Raúl Grijalva), Salazar nonetheless maintains an 84 percent lifetime average on the League of Conservation Voters' environmental scorecard.

"There's going to be a lot of work to do in all these agencies to turn back the legacy of the Bush administration, and a lot of these last-minute actions he's been putting through," says Oko. "People are really going to have to roll up their sleeves."

In the meantime, it's hard not to get a bit giddy at the prospect of a progressive administration working in earnest to help mend this battered planet. "We're pinching ourselves, and reminding ourselves that there's a whole new world ahead of us," says Sittenfeld. "Obviously there are incredible challenges. But we're confident that President-elect Obama and this fabulous new team are going to make tremendous progress."

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