A group of 29 environmental organizations submitted a plan, entitled “Transition to Green,” to Barack Obama’s transition team in late November. The 391-page report highlights current environmental issues and recommends critical actions that will protect the environment while creating jobs and stimulating the economy.
The report states that the Obama administration has a unique opportunity to place the United States at the forefront of environmental leadership while helping the nation recover from its recent recession, but bold and critical action will be necessary. To help guide the administration’s transition, the report focuses on four principles:
- Clean energy solutions to global warming can revitalize the economy by creating millions of jobs using tools that already exist within the United States;
- Social justice should be an important consideration in environmental plans—too often, environmental problems affect poor and minority populations the most;
- Science must not be trumped by politics—we need the involvement of public-minded scientists to guide environmental regulation; and
- Agencies should become more transparent and increase citizen involvement in order to restore government accountability.
The report also stresses the importance of the first 100 days of Obama’s administration. While each section of the report singles out recommendations for this time period, four broad areas are especially significant. First, the report recommends that Obama’s administration must address climate change by using a combination of executive power, legislation from Congress, and overall global leadership. Second, careful and thoughtful allocation of funds from the budget and from stimulus legislation, specifically directed at green infrastructure, can achieve national goals while reviving the economy. Third, the White House must demonstrate strong, global and national leadership on environmental issues. Finally, decision-making positions must be filled with highly qualified individuals that recognize the value of the environment.
The authors tried to make their report as comprehensive as possible, addressing all areas that affect the environment nationally. In addition to so-called “cross-cutting issues” that will require cooperation across many offices and agencies, such as climate and energy, the report’s individual sections address the Executive Office of the President and twelve United States Departments. Each section of the report highlights the top three issues facing each office and key appointments to be made. The report then describes each issue, and provides various recommendations, including those to be given priority within the first 100 days.
A full copy of the report can be found at http://lcv-ftp.org/LCV/green_transition.pdf.