5 Green Government Leaders Who Don't Get the Attention They Deserve

Just because you're doing good work doesn't mean you always receive the attention you deserve. To rectify that here are some green government leaders who haven't had the spotlight placed upon them as often as some of their more prominent colleagues.They may take on issues that aren't always as sexy as some others--water infrastructure, sewers, nuclear waste dumps, opposing offshore drilling, controlling refinery emissions and invasive species--but each one of these leader's earns TH's vote:1. Mayor Shirley Franklin of Atlanta, Georgia

photo via the Sundaypaper.net
Shirley Franklin, an African-American woman who had never previously held any elected office, was elected Atlanta's first female mayor in November 2001. On November 8, 2005, she won re-election with more than 90 % of the vote. Facing a massive and unexpected budget deficit, Mayor Franklin committed what many saw as political suicide by slashing the number of government employees, raising taxes, and spending millions repairing the city's water works.

Prior to Mayor Franklin's term, Atlanta's combined sewer system violated the Clean Water Act and was fined by the U.S. EPA. But Franklin made repairing the Atlanta sewers a main priority of her tenure. In 2002, Franklin announced an initiative called "Clean Water Atlanta" to address the problem, and began improving the city's sewer system by taking along-term, regional approach to try to avoid the crisis.

This October, Mayor Franklin encouraged city workers to become more energy-efficient. Everyone, she announced, was going to have to adjust their behavior by taking shorter showers and recycling. Atlanta now requires all newly constructed city buildings to be energy-efficient. The city is switching to more energy-efficient traffic lights and implementing a recycling program at its international airport. Mayor Franklin has also called for a 7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. Under Franklin's leadership Atlanta has gone from having one of the lowest percentages of LEED certified buildings to one of the highest.

2. U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas

photo via house.gov Austin Global Warming Press Conference

In 1994, Lloyd Doggett was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In Congress, Doggett has championed environmental protection. In 1997, respected journalist Molly Ivins called Doggett "one smart cookie" for his leadership in opposing a nuclear waste dump. The federal government had set up deals where states could join in compacts to decide which one would take nuclear waste from the others for a price. States that took low level nuclear waste were out of the drawing for getting a national high level dump. Doggett's amendment at the time was smart but simple: it put into law what was in the original compact, restricting use of the dump to Texas, Maine, and Vermont.

In June 2008, Congressman Doggett joined with Central Texas leaders from the business, technology, environmental, and religious communities to introduce the Climate Market Auction Trust & Trade Emissions Reduction System (MATTERS) Act to combat global warming. The Climate MATTERS Act instituted a cap-and-trade system to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, investing the resulting revenue in creating green, high-wage jobs, in assisting consumers' transition to a low-carbon economy, and in providing affordable healthcare to working families. Doggett was the 1st person to be honored with the Environmental Champion award by the Texas League of Conservation Voters.


3. New Mexico's new Congressman from the 3rd District: Ben Ray Lujan


photo via swingstateofmind.com

A district known for its peaceful scenery was the location of a contentious primary this year. Ben Ray Lujan, son of the New Mexico House speaker, outlasted a well-funded opponent to become a member of the 111th Congress. As Public Regulation Commissioner from 2005-2007, he aggressively pushed renewable energy mandates, including the strongest net-metering rule in the country, fought against new coal plants, and took a bite out of Tri-State Electric Cooperative by regulating utilities and their reliance on coal. He also supported the passage of clean cars regulations, worked on green building insurance programs, argued against nuclear power/uranium mining, and still opposes off-shore drilling. He is also passionate in his belief that the Los Alamos National Lab needs to shift from nuclear work to renewable energy development for economic as well as environmental reasons. Not to mention that he goaded his father, the Speaker of the House, into buying a hybrid.

4. Mayor Bill White of Houston

photo via pushhouston.com

America's 4th largest (and most polluted) city has a mayor working hard to change the city's course by taking on Texas's entrenched anti-conservation powers in the state capitol. He faces an uphill battle. Houston has a lot of industry, not many public transit options, and weather ideal for smog. Yet, Mayor White is moving forward with clean air and climate change programs. He is focusing on the short term by controlling emissions of toxic chemicals, especially Olefins—ethylene and butadiene from refineries and petrochemical plants.

Mayor White is cleaning up the air with a plan to slash NOx emissions by 16%. He is also focusing on a long term plan for more fuel-efficient transportation, which will include building a rapid transit system. White has been frustrated that as a mayor he can't enforce truck emission standards more stringently than the federal government. But in the meantime, Mayor White insists that Houston purchase low sulfur diesel.

White's emission plan would reduce greenhouse gas emissions 11% by 2010. That target has been described as conservative by some, but it is definitely headed in the right direction. Some of the strategies to achieve this will include: purchasing renewable power, promoting the use of hybrid cars, upgrading light fixtures, and increasing overall energy efficiency in buildings. The largest reductions would come from purchasing more wind energy.

5. Oregon State Senator Jackie Dingfelder

photo via oregonlive.com
Jackie Dingfelder is an environmental consultant from northeast Portland who chaired the Oregon House Energy and Environment Committee from 2007-2008. Her interest in the environment was probably honed in her graduate studies at UNC, where she received a Master's Degree in Regional Planning, with an emphasis on water resources management.

Since being elected to the State Senate, she now continues her work at the senate level by directing environmental and natural resources policy.

Dingfelder has had 3 straight 100% scores on the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard and received their Environmental Champion of the Year award for her leadership on a range of issues including: electronic waste recycling, renewable energy, global warming, and water.

She's currently one of the Vice Chairs of the National Conference of State Legislators' Environment Committee. Dingfelder has also shown leadership on the issue of invasive species, helping to set goals at the city and state level so that there will be a long term plan which focuses on preventing invasive species before they take root. When working at her consultant job, Dingfelder commutes by bike 3 days a week, 30 minutes each way; she also eats what she preaches: Dingfelder eats no red meat or dairy and is a Community Supported Agriculture member of Sauvie Island Organics, where she gets fresh produce.

Thanks to the state chapters of the League of Conservation Voters for tips
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