A letter from Brian Tokar
From: Brian Tokar <email@example.com>
Date: December 17, 2008 10:47:12 AM EST (CA)
Subject: Concerns re: EPA and USDA appointees
Dear Senator Leahy,
As many predicted, the Obama cabinet will be filled with long-serving establishment figures and, sadly, there does not appear to be a single person among them with a progressive political history. But two of this week's appointees raise particular concerns, which I hope you will address during next month's confirmation hearings.
I am referring to Lisa Jackson, President-elect Obama's appointment to head the EPA, and Tom Vilsack of Iowa, announced yesterday as the next Agriculture secretary.
The highly reputed Washington-based organization, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which was established to support federal whistleblowers, has released a rather scathing letter outlining Ms. Jackson's record as Commissioner of Environmental Protection in New Jersey. They suggest that she has consistently sided with corporate interests over and above the health of NJ residents and the environment, including implementing dangerous loopholes around toxic chemicals enforcement, exempting companies from requirements to install renewable energy equipment, and proposing a carbon emissions trading program that amounted to a huge corporate giveaway. These issues are described in detail in a memo that I've attached, and can also be found online at <peer.org/docs/epa/08_8_12_peer_ltr_opposing_jackson.pdf>.
Mr. Vilsack has been a major political voice for US agribusiness throughout his political career, and has been closely tied to Monsanto and other biotechnology companies. He was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, supported the cloning of dairy cows, and brought forward, in Iowa, one of the first state laws to prohibit any local measures to control the growing of genetically engineered crops. This legislation, which eventually spread to 14 states, was advanced by the right wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The Organic Consumers Association mounted a nationwide petition drive opposing Vilsack's rumored nomination several weeks ago, and details can be found at organicconsumers.org.
I hope you will play an active role in forcefully probing the backgrounds of these appointees when the Senate reconvenes, and that we will somehow find a way to hold President Obama to his many positive campaign promises, and move the country in a direction toward genuine progressive change.