Photo via Red, Green and Blue
They're back. If there were even the tiniest lingering doubts about the priorities of the Bush administration's environmental team, let them be silenced now. A bunch of Bush's top enviro officials have returned to DC to engage issues surrounding the Democrats' climate bill like clean energy and cap and trade—as advocates and consultants for companies hoping to shut the whole thing down. That's right—after years of ignoring climate change, they've returned to try to destroy the first US measure that has a chance of combating it. Yes, many of those once appointed to be environmental stewards are now not only ignoring some of the biggest problems issues of our day—but they're working directly to oppose any progress made to alleviate them. Politico reports on the crew of Bush officials who are showing their true colors:
As the House Energy and Commerce Committee debates its ambitious cap-and-trade bill, environmentalists will find James Connaughton, President George W. Bush's top environmental adviser, advocating for Constellation Energy. Karen Harbert, a top Bush Energy Department official, is now heading the energy practice at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — a leading critic of Democratic climate change proposals. And F. Chase Hutto III, Vice President Dick Cheney's energy and environment adviser, has formed ClearView Energy Partners, aimed at helping businesses navigate climate change legislation.
You read correctly. That's one lobbyist for a coal-powered utility company, one heading the US Chamber of Commerce, the biggest anti-climate action lobby in the nation, and one working to protect businesses from what's essentially pollution reduction measures.
"Like salmon swimming upstream to spawn, they are returning to their natural habitat: big industry," said Center for American Progress Action Fund climate strategy director Daniel J. Weiss.
And even though it's really nothing remarkable about former officials getting posts with companies they developed relationships with during years of government service, this is nonetheless one last appalling reminder of how willing the Bush team was to neglect environmental issues to support industry interests. As Politico puts it:
To be sure, the revolving door phenomenon is nothing new, and ex-Bush energy and environment advisers were bound to land with the industries they regulated — or, in some cases, deregulated. But the quick transition from setting policy to directly fighting the environmental policies of the Obama administration may have a real impact on the Capitol Hill debate.
Sigh. And the ghost of Bush lingers on . . .