Executive Orders, Clean Coal and Energy Security

By November 10, 2008Energy, Global Warming

A big political story to emerge this weekend was President-elect Obama’s intention of repealing many of President Bush’s executive orders. John Podesta appeared the FoxNews Sunday show, test-marketing the theme to gauge the response from constitutencies. AP summary, “Obama plans review of Bush executive orders“:

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama plans an “across-the board” review of President George W. Bush’s executive orders, with an eye toward making his own quick imprint on important matters, and will swiftly put in place a “diverse,” bipartisan team of Cabinet members and aides, key advisers said Sunday.

“There’s a lot that the president can do using his executive authority, without waiting for congressional action,” said John Podesta, who is coordinating Obama’s transition planning. “And I think we’ll see the president do that to try to restore … a sense that the country is working on behalf of the common good.”

Obama’s review of his predecessor’s executive orders will range from a ban that Bush placed on federal funding for research using new lines of embryonic stem cells to an expected easing of oil and gas drilling limits in sensitive Western lands that the Bush administration could seek in its final month.

Utah. It’s always Utah. We remember the hullabaloo over President Clinton’s unilateral declaration in 1996 of Grande Staircase of the Escalante National Monument in Utah, locking up 1.7 million acres of land without congressional action, land that holds a trillion dollars worth of clean coal.

 As Investor’s Business Daily recalled in an editorial earlier this year:

The Utah reserve contains a kind of low-sulfur, low-ash and therefore low-polluting coal that can be found in only a couple of places in the world. It burns so cleanly that it meets the requirements of the Clean Air Act without additional technology.

“The mother of all land grabs,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said at the time. He has called what was designated as the Grande Staircase of the Escalante National Monument the “Saudi Arabia of coal.”

President Clinton’s move was a clear statement of policy that the Clinton Administration was not serious about reducing U.S. reliance on foreign energy and that “energy security” was anything but a priority. It’s useful historical reminder for the upcoming energy debates.

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