(Beyond Pesticides, November 4, 2008) As voters across the country make their way to the polls today, the pundits and we here at Beyond Pesticides, are thinking about the new President’s possible cabinet picks that will affect pesticide policy. Who will serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency responsible for regulating pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), as well as enforcing the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other environmental laws? Who will serve as Secretary of Agriculture, heading the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department which regulates organic food and textile production? Before the presidential votes have been tallied, many experts have already made their predictions.
With climate change a top priority, an Obama Administration EPA Administrator would most likely have a background in carbon emissions and global warming. Organic advocates will be pushing to include organic agriculture and carbon sequestration in any new cap and trade emissions program. The online environmental magazine Daily Grist predicts Mary Nichols, a former Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer and senior official in the Clinton EPA who currently chairs the California Air Resources Board; Kathleen McGinty, former Al Gore aide and first chair of the Clinton Administration’s Center for Environmental Quality who currently serves as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); and, Dan Esty, a current top energy advisor to the Obama campaign and former George H.W. Bush EPA official; as candidates for the top EPA position. Others in the blogosphere have pointed to Robert Kennedy Jr., professor of environmental law and co-director of the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic (who has represented Beyond Pesticides in a mosquito-spraying lawsuit against New York City) and founder and chairman of the Waterkeeper Alliance; Robert Sussman, Deputy EPA Administrator under the Clinton Administration and currently a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; and, Bradley Campbell, environmental lawyer and former Commissioner of the New Jersey (DEP).
The Daily Grist is predicting Sherwood Boehlert, moderate Republican and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York who served on the House Science Committee; Joe Lieberman, former Democratic, now Independent Senator who has supported the McCain campaign, has co-authored climate change legislation and supported the School Environment Protection Act (SEPA); Chris Shays, moderate Republican and member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Connecticut who co-authored fuel efficiency bill; William Reilly, longtime director at the DuPont chemical company (a pesticide manufacturer) and former president of the World Wildlife Fund; Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey governor and later EPA administrator during much of George W. Bush’s first term; Mary Gade, former EPA administrator in the Midwest who says she was forced to resign after tangling with Dow Chemical Company over dioxin contamination; and, David McIntosh, past executive director of former vice president Dan Quayle’s Council for Competitiveness, where Grist reports he worked to roll back environmental regulations; as possibilities for the top EPA spot.
Top Secretary of Agriculture predictions are: Tom Vilsack, former Iowa governor and presidential candidate who supports corn ethanol, but says sustainable rural development means more than just commodity farming; Tom Buis, president of the National Farmer’s Union and past advisor to former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle; and, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, South Dakota’s representative in the U.S. House and former South Dakota Farmers Union Foundation director.
Predicted McCain administration Secretary of Agriculture picks include: Calvin Dooley, current head of the American Chemistry Council (which represents pesticide manufacturers) and a former Democratic congressman from California’s Central Valley as well as former head of the Food Products Association and the Grocery Manufacturers Association; Jim Leach, former Iowa congressman and current interim director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics; Ben Nelson, a Democratic senator from Nebraska; Mark Sanford, governor of South Carolina; Terry Everett, an Alabama representative in the U.S House and member of the House Agriculture Committee; and, Edward Schafer, the current Secretary of Agriculture, appointed by President Bush.