Obama's "Five Worst Nominees"

Over at the Mother Jones blog, Kate Sheppard, David Corn and Daniel Schulman compiled a list of "Obama's Five Worst Nominees." Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner doesn't make the cut, which surprised me until I read the short bios of appointees who are likely to put corporate interests ahead of the public interest. In alphabetical order:

William Lynn, for whom the president made an exception to his policy on lobbyists in government. Lynn was the chief lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon before becoming deputy secretary of defense in the Obama administration.

William Magwood, a "cheerleader for nuclear power" who has "worked for reactor maker Westinghouse and has run two firms that advise companies on nuclear projects." Obama nominated him for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Scott O'Malia, who was apparently suggested by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. O'Malia "was a lobbyist for Mirant, an Enron-like energy-trading firm" and lobbied for weakening the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to which Obama appointed him.

Joseph Pizarchik, who helped form policies in Pennsylvania to allow disposal of toxic coal ash in unlined pits. Obama named him director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Islam Siddiqui, whom Obama appointed to be the chief agricultural negotiator for the U.S. trade representative. Jill Richardson has been on this case at La Vida Locavore; see here and here on why Siddiqui is the wrong person for this job.

I wouldn't suggest that this rogue's gallery is representative of Obama appointees, but it's depressing to see any of them in this administration.

In the good news column, Obama has decided to renominate Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, along with five other nominees who didn't receive a confirmation vote in the Senate last year.

Let's review what T. Boone Pickens is selling.

Here is a disturbing set of facts about Natural Gas...

If you've been listening to T. Boone Pickens' recent television ads about getting away from the oil and coal consumption problems and heading towards other solutions - like Natural Gas - then you should look at this piece of factual information from Josh Nelson on The Seminal.

It looks like the two major problems with Natural Gas are 1.) the creation of an OPEC like trading group headed by Russia to tie us up with out increasing NG imports, and 2.) the increase in water pollution caused by our own internal NG production.

Go read the article and see what you think. Maybe this is not such a good approach to take to the energy problem after all.

Under The LobsterScope

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The Genocide of America.

Is the United States of America the world's largest dealer of illegal drugs?  What about the world's largest gun runner?  For years our government has used the CIA, NSA & other super-secret 'intelligence' agencies to cultivate drug harvest and distribution in SE Asia and Afghanistan.  We offer 'aid' and 'trade' to countries in the forms of weapons and ammunition.  The drugs come home to the US to poison and kill our own population.  The weapons we sell are used either against us directly by people to kill others, who then seek to kill Americans.  Did the founding fathers envision a country that would become the world's largest debtor and blood merchant?

(Cross posted at The National Gadfly)

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Are we too stupid to save ourselves?

I walked onto the train platform in downtown Chicago today.  A woman had just finished shopping at Macy's and had several red shopping bags.  She was trying to put everything into one bag.  The wind picked up and blew some of the empty bags down the platform.  I took off running and stopped them from blowing out onto the street.

Then, she yells to me that: "It's OK!  They're empty." Then she sits down and waits for the train with her two bags full of stuff.  The 5 empty big red bags are just out there on the platform and she makes no effort to pick them up.  I told her that I didn't want litter for a Christmas present, picked them all up and threw them in the trash (no recycling on CTA platforms...dammit!).

(Cross posted at The National Gadfly)

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Bush's parting gift to industrial livestock producers

This is my first post in a series on George W. Bush's gifts to corporate interests and major Republican donors during the final weeks of his presidency. (Please send me tips at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com regarding other below-the-radar executive branch actions.)

This news came from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's e-mail newsletter:

EPA Administrator Signs Off on Final CAFO Rule:  Last Friday, as a "Halloween trick" for the environment and public health, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson signed a revised Clean Water Act final regulation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) permits and effluent limitations.  EPA revised the CAFO regulations in response to legal challenges to a 2003 CAFO final regulation, brought in the case Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. v. EPA by both environmental organizations and the CAFO sector.  

The revision opens a gaping hole in the 2003 regulation by allowing a CAFO, no matter how large, to self-certify that the CAFO does not "intend" to discharge to the waters of the U.S.   EPA ignored the recommendation of the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals to establish a regulatory presumption that large-scale CAFOs discharge pollutants.  The presumption would have required that a large-scale CAFO demonstrate to regulatory authorities that it is designed and can be operated to avoid all discharges of regulated pollutants.  

EPA also rejected making improvements in technology that reduce harmful bacteria and other pathogens that threaten public health, a problem aggravated by the development of antibiotic resistant pathogens in CAFOs.  The revised rule does include one improvement required in Waterkeeper -- that a CAFO nutrient management plan must be included in a Clean Water Act permit for the CAFO and made available for public review and comment.

EPA is expected publish the revised final regulation in the Federal Register before the end of November. In the meantime, a copy of the unofficial version of the revised regulation is posted on the EPA website. You can also register on the website for a November 19 EPA webcast about the revised CAFO regulation.

SAC will be urging the new Administration to revisit this rulemaking on an expedited basis.

Why am I not surprised that industrial ag profits are a higher priority than the environment and public health?

I hope that the Obama administration will put this on the list of actions to be overturned quickly.

If you care about food policy and sustainable agriculture, you should bookmark the community blog La Vida Locavore, featuring Jill Richardson (known to Daily Kos readers as OrangeClouds115) and Asinus Asinum Fricat, among others.

Jill's recent posts indicate that Obama will likely improve food safety and may move us in the right direction in several other agricultural policy areas.

I can't say I'll be very optimistic if Obama taps Tom Vilsack for secretary of agriculture. He did little to address pollution from conventional farming or to promote sustainable agriculture during his two terms as governor. The Organic Consumers Association doesn't hold back in this piece: Six Reasons Why Obama Appointing Monsanto's Buddy, Former Iowa Governor Vilsack, for USDA Head is a Terrible Idea.

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