WASHINGTON — A united and diverse coalition of environmental advocacy groups has sent President-elect Barack Obama its roadmap for change _ and it represents a U-turn from the policies of President George W. Bush.
The 391-page report titled "Transition to Green" lays out what the incoming Obama administration can do in its first 100 days and beyond at more than a dozen different agencies to achieve the dual goals of cleaning up the environment and revitalizing the economy.
"It gives a whole vision on how to move forward to repower, rebuild, refuel America," said Jim Lyon, senior vice president for conservation for the National Wildlife Federation, one of 29 groups that signed onto the laundry list of policy recommendations.
Many of the suggestions in the report released Tuesday echo what Obama has said on the campaign trail and signaled during the transition: capping the gases blamed for global warming; basing environmental decisions on sound science; and taking a more cautious approach to energy production on federal lands.
Other recommendations appear to be more aggressive than Obama's stated policies. The groups call for cutting funding for nuclear energy, reinstating a moratorium on drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and reconsidering recent oil and gas leases in some parts of Alaska.
The bold outline from groups working to protect oceans, increase park space and reduce pollution shows that the environmental community is going on the offensive, after eight years of playing defense. The Bush administration in the last eight years has eased some environmental protections, and in the next eight weeks it is set to relax regulations governing power plant emissions and protecting endangered species.
Environmentalists are hoping to capitalize on a new Democratic administration and a larger Democratic majority in Congress that have already signaled that energy and environmental policy are a priority.
"We know this administration is much more friendly to environmental protection than the one that is leaving town," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife, which signed onto the report with the Natural Resources Defense Council, American Rivers, Greenpeace and the National Audubon Society.
"We all see this as an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past," Schlickeisen said.
But they admit there could be some stumbling blocks _ namely, a nation in the throes of an economic crisis and larger caucus of moderate Democrats from manufacturing states.
"We need to be able to show that an aggressive response to reducing global warming emissions will not harm the economy, but in fact generate new jobs and marshal investment in clean technologies," said Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It has to be done in a way that is sensitive to regional concerns and jobs."
On the Net:
Save Our Environment Action Center: http://www.saveourenvironment.org