From Fuming to Praising: Twitter and the Green Reaction to Obama’s Selection of Salazar as Interior Secretary
[social_buttons]On Tuesday afternoon, as I was working on another piece about president-elect Barack Obama tapping Colorado Senator Ken Salazar for Interior Secretary—this time about how Salazar’s appointment to Interior won’t leave his successor much time to win over Colorado voters—I heard Jeff Brady report on National Public Radio that environmentalists were fuming over the Salazar appointment.
“Fuming?” I thought to myself, “maybe that’s a bit of a mischaracterization.” So, as I will often do, I decided to share my thoughts with the Twitterverse and sent out the following message on Twitter:
In Brady’s report (and in his defense) he cited an action last week, when more than 150 environmental groups signed a letter to Obama backing Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva. But I still thought the instant assumption that “most environmentalists are fuming” was hasty. And then I got the following response from @HuffingtonPost/@COindependent:
To which I replied (and misspelled Grijalva):
Now, I follow @NPRPolitics on Twitter and I know they follow me back, but I really don’t know if they caught any of this exchange, but the next time I heard Brady’s report on NPR, he said something like “many environmentalists are fuming,” and the third time I heard the report it was something along the lines of “some environmentalists are fuming.”
So when I was pouring through my RSS feader this morning looking for all these fumes, they were few and far between (i.e thus far, non-existent). Instead, I found mainstream environmental groups showering praise, albeit measured, on the selection of Salazar.
Carl Pope of the Sierra Club wrote:
“The Sierra Club is very pleased with the nomination of Ken Salazar to head the Interior Department. As a Westerner and a rancher, he understands the value of our public lands, parks, and wildlife and has been a vocal critic of the Bush Administration’s reckless efforts to sell-off our public lands to Big Oil and other special interests. Senator Salazar has been a leader in protecting places like the Roan Plateau and he has stood up against the Bush’s administration’s dangerous rush to develop oil shale in Colorado and across the West.
“Senator Salazar has also been a leading voice in calling for the development of the West’s vast solar, wind, and geothermal resources. He will make sure that we create the good-paying green jobs that will fuel our economic recovery without harming the public lands he will be charged with protecting.
“Senator Salazar will inherit an agency that has suffered from a pervasive rot under the Bush administration due to widespread corruption, simple incompetence, and severe underfunding. We are confident that Senator Salazar will work with President-Elect Obama to undo the damage of the Bush years and chart a course that will allow this vast agency to return to its proud legacy of protecting our last wild places, wildlife, and vast natural resources.”
NRDC President Frances Bienecke wrote an excellent piece about the tough job ahead for Salazar and expressed why she has hope he is the right person
“Salazar’s own connection to the land gives me hope. Salazar is a fifth-generation Coloradan who grew up on a cattle and alfalfa ranch without running water or electricity. His home was is in the stunning San Luis Valley, where rich ranching and farming land is banked by the wild San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges.
As a senator, Salazar supported his state’s efforts to limit the impacts to groundwater from the heavily polluting process of in-situ uranium mining and taken often lonely stands against oil shale. Still, the challenges before Salazar are great, and he will need to be a forceful leader for change.”
The New Republic‘s Bradford Plummer sharply pointed out that Salazar won’t be breaking the ‘iron triangle’ (read: old boys club) of backdoor administrative rulemaking:
Salazar, for his part, is a relatively green pick. He has an 81 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, and has been critical of the Bush administration’s plans to expedite oil-shale drilling in Colorado and other Western states, on account of the environmental damage it would wreak. He’s reportedly close to Obama, which will bolster his effectiveness, as will his longstanding ties to the American West.
Pam Kiely of Environment Colorado was also pleased with the choice of Salazar, while recognizing his pragmatism:
“In Washington, Sen. Salazar fought to protect our nation’s treasures such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He’s championed wilderness for Dominguez Canyon, Browns Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Park. Sen. Salazar has championed a cautious approach to oil shale to protect our public lands and water resources.”
While this certainly does not exhaust the universe of reactions to the Salazar appointment, it just goes to show you that: A) Environmentalists are not a homogeneous, and B) You can’t believe everything you hear — even on NPR.