As noted by Think Progress, the President has nominated for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Jr., Chairman of Goldman Sachs, a birdwatcher and conservationist as well as an investment banker, and a man who firmly placed his bank in support of the Kyoto Protocol treaty to reduce carbon emissions.
He argues that if the U.S. ignores Kyoto, it will fall behind in the creation of innovative technologies to control emissions. Sachs has not only pledged to conserve what is known as "natural capital," in an action praised by the Rainforest Action Network, but also pledged $5 million towards a Center for Environmental Markets, to be launched within six months. The idea is to study how the free market can help solve environmental problems, an action praised by the National Resources Defense Council and Friends of the Earth.
Further, Sachs has declared that climate change:
requires the urgent attention of and action by governments, business, consumers and civil society to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Predictably, this has the climate change deniers in full uproar. Steven Milloy, a FOXNews hack notorious for taking money not just from ExxonMobil (doesn’t everyone?) but also Philip Morris, has the temerity to suggest in Human Events that despite Paulson’s huge success in business, he’s "decidedly anti-economy and anti-property rights" because he worked with The Nature Conservancy and another conservation group to save a chunk of land in Patagonia.
In a statement from yet another "free enterprise" group, Milloy declares:
"Henry Paulson would undermine the Administration’s ability to counter global warming alarmism."
This might actually be true!
And the eternal optimist in me wonders: Could it be intentional?
Is it possible that Paulson is being brought on board in part to edge the administration away from its extreme denialist position on this issue? After all, even the President himself once upon a time pledged to restrain carbon emissions, and early in his administration told his first Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, to "bring him a plan" to reduce carbon emissions. (This according to the authoritative account and documents in "The Price of Loyalty," the book that O’Neill wrote with Ron Suskind after being evicted from the White House.) Although that plan was submarined, probably by Dick Cheney’s office, Bush’s environmental adviser, James Connaughton, is on the record encouraging the president to see Al Gore’s documentary on climate change.
Realistically, probably Paulson is being brought on board to reassure Wall Street and the public that the administration’s economic policy is not being run by incompetent Republican hacks, but he will be a prominent member of the Cabinet and maybe, just maybe, could change some minds there.
Certainly Congress and the White House press corps should ask him what he thinks about this during the confirmation process.
That’s the optimistic view. My teen Emily had a different take.
"Bush probably just didn’t want to read the whole memo," she said.
Well, she’s got a point. Occam’s Razor: The simplest possible explanation. Could be true…
UPDATE: More deniers join the far-right chorus against Paulson. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Myron Ebell declares:
“No conservative administration should consider appointing anyone who works for the Nature Conservancy to any position and certainly not to one carrying the high responsibilities of Treasury Secretary."
And in the LA Times. a story called "The Bird-Watching Businessman" quotes Peter Flaherty, of the National Legal and Policy Center, who declares: ""I’m worried about the access that radical environmentalists would have at Treasury."
Yep, because he likes watching birds, works to conserve undeveloped land and preserve our lovely climate, Paulson’s tarred as a "radical" type.