Obama’s Second Term May Mean Environmental Jobs Shift

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Obama’s second term may mean more environmental jobs in the long-term, but it also means some environmental jobs in the cabinet might undergo transition now. The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Energy come to mind.

Regardless of whether the Department of Energy’s loans program was actually irresponsible and ineffective during Obama’s first term (it wasn’t), Republicans made such a big deal out of Solyndra, that the loan program was a liability for the President during his campaign. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu might be positioned as scapegoats. Replacing them might mean the loan program itself could be positioned in a better light.

So who’s in line to fill these environmental jobs? There’s talk of Chu’s position being filled by Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, or by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or who better to be the Secretary of Energy than the CEO of the nation’s largest energy utility, Jim Rogers of Duke Energy?

The position of Secretary of the Interior has traditionally been filled by someone from the western states, since most of the lands managed by the department are in the west. However, it’s very likely that Chu’s position will be filled by his second in command, David Hayes, even though Hayes is from the east. He’s responsible for designing the public lands renewable energy policy. He already knows how all the environmental jobs in the department work, and could keep things running without a hitch during the transition.

We’ll have to wait and see what President Obama’s choices for his second term are.

Another thing we’ll have to wait for is whether the incoming congress will renew the production tax credits for wind energy. Currently, about 75,000 Americans hold environmental jobs in wind power.

By Leslie Hedrick

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