Top Environmental Groups Offer Rx on Key Green Issues to Obama's Team

Top Environmental Groups Offer Rx on Key Green Issues to Obama's Team

A coalition of environmentalists say that work in renewable energy and building efficiency will top the list of green jobs that are expected to help fuel an economic recovery in the U.S.

Representatives of some of the country's most influential environmental, science and conservation organizations made the remarks yesterday in a media briefing after highlighting recommendations offered to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team.

Twenty-nine leading organizations worked together to produce the 391-page "Transition to Green" report that was submitted to the transition team on Monday.

Foremost among the groups' recommendations were calls to aggressively develop renewable energy resources and address climate change. Representatives of organizations participating in the briefing emphasized that the two areas were by no means their sole focus only that of their topline priorities.

After climate and energy, the groups identified America's Arctic and circumpolar Arctic and the Land and Water Conservation Fund as key "cross-cutting issues." They also provided a policy wish list for more than 30 federal departments and agencies ranging from the Department of Defense to the Bureau of Land Management.

In outlining their recommendations, the group reiterated its support in the president-elect and confidence that green strategies can resolve the country's economic crisis and its many environmental challenges.

"We need to dig ourselves out of the hole we're in with a green shovel," said National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Larry Schweiger, adding "we look forward to working with the Obama administration.

In a response to a question about job growth in a new green economy, Natural Resources Defense Council Executive Director Frances Beinecke said that in addition to renewable energy "one of the greatest opportunities is in the building sector — making buildings more efficient."  

The job growth, she said, " is "definitely on the renewables side and even greater in the building side."

Asked what prompts the groups to place such high confidence in Obama on green issues, President of the League of Conservation Voters Gene Karpinski pointed to the president-elect's articulated understanding of the complex issues as well as a long track record of support that dates to his time in the Illinois state senate.

"He understands that the solution to our problem is a new green economy," Karpinski said, "that delay is just not bad for the planet, it's bad for the economy."

Karpinski said that as a lawmaker Obama consistently voted favorably on environmental issues and expressed his commitment to the environment early on in his political career. "He just doesn't have it on some website, that is a core principal of his (and has been) throughout his political history," Karpinski said.

The groups that collaborated to produce the recommendations were the American Rivers, Center For International Environmental Law, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Environment America, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends Of The Earth, Greenpeace, Izaak Walton League, League Of Conservation Voters, National Audubon Society, National Parks Conservation Association, National Tribal Environmental Council, National Wildlife Federation, Native American Rights Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, Pew Environment Group, Physicians For Social Responsibility, Population Connection, Population Action International, Rails-To-Trails Conservancy, Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, The Trust For Public Land, Union Of Concerned Scientists  and World Wildlife Fund.

The groups' report is available at http://www.saveourenvironment.org.

Clean Air-Cool Planet also has offered a strategy on climate change to the incoming president. The organization announced its report, "Building a Foundation for Success: Recommendations for Early Action on Climate Change for the 44th President of the United States," yesterday.

The report recommends 25 early steps the new president can take within 150 days of taking office to address climate change.