President-elect Barack Obama will reportedly choose Marine Gen. James L. Jones as his National Security Adviser, according to unnamed sources quoted by the Associated Press.
Jones is a marine with 40 years of experience, including four years as Marine Corps Commandant, and he spent three years as NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and as Commander of the United States European Command. He's chaired the Congressional Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq and been a special envoy to the Middle East, negotiating for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.
What is perhaps most interesting, though, from a green perspective, is his recent work on energy issues for the Institute for 21st Century Energy, an arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The institute published an 88-point roadmap for Obama, with the expressed purpose of "securing" our energy supply. It has 13 major points:
In his personal remarks on the site, he seems to embrace the McCain "all of the above" approach, with a dose of Obama's call for increased energy efficiency:
"We must make the energy we have go further by aggressively promoting energy efficiency. We must produce more energy from all of the diverse sources available to us. We must modernize and protect our energy infrastructure to improve the reliability and security of our energy supplies. And we must do all this while minimizing the impact of energy production and consumption on our air, land, and water."
Environmental groups have proposed their own plans, which include no more drilling, less or no nuclear power expansion, far more emphasis on concrete goals for reducing the threat of global warming, and no mention of "burdensome" regulations or "frivolous" litigation - given that regulations are seen as the key to achieving environmental goals, and that lawsuits are often used to enforce environmental regulations. They share a strong emphasis on energy conservation.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, in its Switchboard blog (frequently republished on The Daily Green), has criticized the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Institute for 21st Century Energy, though not Jones by name.
Pete Altman, NRDC's climate change director, called it the "U.S. Chamber of Chicken Littles" and called out the chamber for holding meetings to gather public opinion on energy policy. "These are much more monologue than dialogue though, and the punch line is pretty consistently a prediction of economic disaster if the US Congress creates a serious climate policy," he wrote.
Theo Spencer, an NRDC advocate, compared the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's interest in clean energy to "crooner Pat Boone's ill-fated foray into covering metal music classics."
So what does all this mean for Obama's energy policy? Probably not much, given the president-elect's strong statements regarding his intentions to regulate greenhouse gases and make global warming a priority. The National Security Adviser, after all, is neither the chief energy, environmental nor economic adviser. But Jones could be a voice on the Obama cabinet who argues against aggressive environmental regulation, and his position as national security adviser gives him a lot of clout, and unlike other high-level national security thinkers, he may be less likely to emphasize the national security risks of unmitigated global warming.
But Obama's stance on global warming is hard to second-guess. It was just a week ago that Obama re-iterated his commitment to tackling global warming, in an address to governors gathered in California to discuss climate change policy:
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