When former GOP Rep. Ray LaHood was initially tapped to run Barack Obama’s Department of Transportation, transit activists were a bit befuddled.
Fans of LaHood lauded his bipartisan relationships and grasp of the
legislative process while pointing out he had previously ...
When former GOP Rep. Ray LaHood was initially tapped to run Barack Obama’s Department of Transportation, transit activists were a bit befuddled. Fans of LaHood lauded his bipartisan relationships and grasp of the legislative process while pointing out he had previously bucked his party’s aversion to Amtrak. But he was also on record as opposing high-speed rail in Illinois, had little transportation experience, and had garnered a meager 27 percent lifetime rating from the League of Conservation Voters. With the world facing imminent ecological disaster and a major surface transportation bill slated for reauthorization this year, the prospect of an anti-environmental Republican reshaping the nation’s transit and vehicle emissions policies was a bit disconcerting.
But it appears Obama isn’t letting LaHood deviate too much from the administration’s playbook. ClimateWire reports:
The Transportation Department will follow the lead of the White House’s top climate and environmental officials when it comes to meeting President Obama’s global warming agenda, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said today.
LaHood said [White House coordinator for energy and climate issues Carol] Browner and U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson would most likely do the heavy lifting when it comes to meeting Obama’s climate goals. DOT is “in the room, we’re at the table, but we probably have less of a role than perhaps some of these other agencies do,” he said at the Washington forum.
That’s unquestionably good news. Browner is a leading voice in the environmental progressive community and likely understands the key connections between climate change, demographic shifts, and the way we move goods and people. So does Vice President Joe Biden, a long-time proponent of rail. And Obama is no slouch on this front either. The nation’s transit riders will benefit greatly if Browner and the inner-circle design policy and LaHood sticks to twisting arms.