Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Kennedy Back in the White House?

[The following is a blog I wrote for Check out the original here]

President-elect Barack Obama has short listed firebrand environmental lawyer Robert F Kennedy Jr as a potential head of the US Environmental Protection Agency according to the Washington Post and Bloomberg.

As a prosecuting attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council and environmental watchdog Riverkeeper, Kennedy - the nephew of former US President John F Kennedy - boasts an impressive track record as protector of the nation's waters, air and open spaces.

One could even argue that he has already served as the de facto EPA head for the last 8 years, as Bush appointees used the Cabinet seat to plunder public lands for oil and gas, gut the Endangered Species Act, and block CO2 emission regulations.

Kennedy is the highest-profile candidate among a number of individuals being considered for the position, including Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, former Sierra Club president and environmental activist Lisa Renstrom, and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty.

Yet, surprisingly, considers him the worst possible of the potential picks: "His environmental track record is excellent, but he's clung to the vaccines-causing-autism-hypothesis long after large-scale epidemiological studies have discredited it as anything but a statistically insignificant cause."

Wired goes on to argue that heading such a large organisation as the EPA, with its thousands of employees and a $7.2 billion budget, might be too big a jump for the relatively small potatoes environmental defense lawyer. But then again, imagine what an ace environmental prosecutor could do with a $7.2 billion budget and thousands of staffers. We may yet have an Environmental Protection Agency that is worthy of its name.

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