March 10, 2009

It’s official! Van Jones joins Obama Administration. (I’ve died & woken up in a West Wing alternative universe.)

Excerpt via Wall St. Journal:

Van Jones will join the Obama administration, but not as any sort of czar.

The green jobs promoter will join the White House Council on Environmental Quality, his current outfit said today, as a “special adviser for green jobs.”

According to Green For All, the Oakland-based green jobs advocacy group Mr. Jones founded, his duties will include: “helping to shape and implement job-generating climate policy; working to ensure equal protection and equal opportunity in the administration’s climate and energy proposals; and publicly advocating the administration’s environmental and energy agenda.”

That first job description is key. Since the campaign, President Obama has touted the job-creation potential of his clean-energy initiative. Now, the focus seems to be on making sure that the administration’s overall climate policy—including a cap-and-trade bill to curb greenhouse-gas emissions—will create more jobs than it endangers.

Tweaking the climate bill that way is politically very important. One of the administration’s biggest challenges in passing a comprehensive cap-and-trade bill is convincing members of Congress, especially Democrats in Rust Belt states, that cap-and-trade’s likely negative impact on manufacturing will be offset somehow through new “green jobs.”

Of course, plenty of economists are still skeptical about the idea of two-for-one policy making, such as shaping climate policy from a jobs-creation perspective. Harvard University’s Robert Stavins is one of the most vocal critics:

Addressing the worst economic recession in generations calls for the most effective economic stimulus package that can be devised, not a stimulus package that is diminished in effectiveness through excessive bells and whistles meant to address a myriad of other (legitimate) social concerns. And, likewise, getting serious about global climate change will require the enactment and implementation of meaningful, dedicated climate policies, most likely a comprehensive national CO2 cap-and-trade system. These are two serious but different policy problems, and they call for two serious, carefully-crafted policy responses.

So President Obama has created one green job, just by hiring Van Jones. Can he create more before the clamor for jobs of any color becomes deafening?

Only a couple years back, our energy policy was getting hacked up by energy execs in closed door meetings with VP Cheney. Healthy Forests were creaiting new logging roads, public lands were being ‘leased’ (and irrevocably harmed) to oil and gas cos. You all know the list, and it’s a long one that covers every area of government—war, environment, economy, education…

Now…though we have yet to see the worst of the worst economy since Dubya Dubya Two…we’re closing Gitmo, talking about leading (not sitting out) on international accords re climate change, and trying to help people, not just corporations. Example: first time home buyers get an $8000 tax break thanks to the Obama Administration’s efforts to keep our bubble economy, popped, from spiraling down out of control.

And now young visionary entrepreneurs are invited to the White House, not as a publicity stunt but in an honest, open effort, to open up dialogue in this weighty, dangerous yet hope-filled era when we either go sustainable or we succumb to a selfish, short-term, limited and ironically ineffective vision of how happy and harmonious our crazy, wonderful human race can be. And now, it appears, Van Jones—who we know and love for all his talk and action in support of Green, Socially-progressive jobsmay be tapped to advise or work with the Obama Administration in some capacity.


The nation’s most influential evangelist for green jobs, Green for All founder Van Jones, will likely be joining the Obama administration’s green jobs effort, though it won’t be as a “Green Jobs Czar,” as rumors swirling through the blogosphere are suggesting.

Jones likely will be tapped instead to work with Carol Browner and the Council on Environmental Quality in some capacity.

We’re hearing that details of his role will be announced later today or tomorrow. Right now, the White House isn’t spilling…for much more, click to Solve Climate dot com.



With Obama in Power, What is Next? from YES! Magazine.

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