I never miss an opportunity to criticize the Obama administration when appropriate, so let me take this opportunity to lavish the president with praise about his young environmental record. The environment is one area in which the president has delivered on his promise of change, and change for the better. Take, for example, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's decision to delay or cancel oil and gas leases on public lands:
The Interior Department "is moving forward with business as usual with the exception of those areas where we think that the Bush administration overreached," Salazar said. He cited a recent decision to cancel 77 leases to drill for oil and gas in wilderness areas of Utah, leases that were offered in the waning days of the Bush administration.
The Interior Department is reviewing whether to put some or all of the 77 parcels back up for lease, and "I would expect that by the end of May we will have a plan on how we're going to move forward."
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is also moving quickly to dismantle the Bush administration policies that laid waste to science and ignored the widely accepted truth of mounting, man-induced climate change:
Nowhere is this change in direction more apparent than in a handful of recent, potentially far-reaching maneuvers related to climate change policy. In January, Jackson directed EPA officials to reconsider California's languishing request to impose stricter greenhouse gas emissions limits on motor vehicles. (The Bush administration denied it in 2007.) More recently, she instructed the agency to review Bush policies that, if changed, could lead to federal regulation of carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants and utilities.
Because these reviews clearly have the White House's backing, Jackson's first few months in office suggest that she will play a critical role in carrying out the administration's climate change policy, even as the details and timing of a carbon dioxide regulation plan remain undecided.
It will take decades of common sense-based environmental policies to roll back the damage done by Bush-Cheney, et al. But at least the Obama administration has launched the roll-back process with great vigor.
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By Bonnie Erbe