So what will this incredible development mean for the earth? Time will tell, of course, but we here at Tom’s Turn are quite optimistic, both because of and in spite of what was said in the campaign.
The first thing to watch, as always, is the appointments—Interior, Energy, EPA, climate czar if there is to be one, and the under secretaries and assistant secretaries and others in the supporting cast. When Bill Clinton won the first time, he hired quite a few people from national environmental groups, as did Jimmy Carter. You can bet resumes are pouring into the Obama transition team right now. I, for one, have heard no rumors on that score so far.
Obama said many of the right things about moving decisively on the global warming front, about the Roadless Rule, and many other subjects,and he sounded serious and sincere. He got forced by McCain and the pressures of the campaign to give tentative and carefully worded support to limited increases in offshore drilling, and "clean coal," also to a new look at nuclear power. I, for one, am hopeful that the new look at nuclear will simply confirm that it’s too expensive, not really competitive with efficiency, conservation, and renewables if the math is done honestly. The only way nuclear would fly is with massive federal subsidies, and the federal pantry is breathtakingly overdrawn just now, in case you hadn’t noticed. I’m vastly skeptical about clean coal. Capturing and sequestering carbon emissions is sure to be enormously expensive if it’s possible at all, and you still need to mine the coal, which is a messy and dangerous proposition no matter how it’s done.
One other thing to watch will be how the economic recovery is approached. There will no doubt be calls to relax environmental regulations to allow various kinds of development to proceed faster. This must be resisted. And, as we said in the last post, the Bush crowd has a long list of new rules and suchlike that it is trying to push through in these last months.
There will be a lot of cleaning-up for the next administration.