President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team are already reviewing all of President Bush's executive orders, considering which will be allowed to stand and which will be overturned, the head of his transition team, John Podesta said on Sunday. Obama's decisions could invalidate environmentally damaging orders issued by the current president.
"As a candidate, Senator Obama said that he wanted all the Bush executive orders reviewed, and decide which ones should be kept, and which ones should be repealed, and which ones should be amended," said Podesta, who served as White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton.
On election day, the Bush administration announced that it will open up about 360,000 acres of Utah public lands to oil and gas drilling in its December lease sale.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management did not publish details of the 241 proposed oil and gas parcels, but some are believed to be near national parks and monuments such as Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah.
But environmentalists are opposed to any further oil and gas development in the Red Rock country of southern Utah.
Scott Groene, executive director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which has fought to keep oil and gas development out of wilderness areas, views the Obama presidency as "the best opportunity for wilderness protection in SUWA's 25 year history."
Groene wants review of what he terms, "disastrous last minute Bush administration decisions for legal violations, including the six awful land use plans the administration just approved, which open millions of acres of redrock wilderness to oil and gas leasing and ORVs."
Podesta said the Obama team is looking at "virtually every agency to see where we can move forward, whether that's on energy transformation, on improving health care, on stem cell research."
Environmental advocates are looking to the incoming administration with hope. Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said November 4, 'The election of Barack Obama represents a new day for environmentalists. His election brings an end to eight years of unrelenting assaults on the environment."
"Our staff and members are ready to work with President-elect Obama and the new Congress to advance his 'New Energy for America Plan,' which includes creating five million clean technology jobs, putting a million hybrid cars on the road, and capping carbon emissions," said Beinecke.