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Environmental Experts Lay Out Goals for Obama's Second Term

The New York Times has experts in several fields weighing in this morningon what they say should be President Obama's priorities for the next four years. Two of them spoke about energy and the environment, and both are worth a read in their entirety.Christine Todd Whitman is the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency under George W. Bush and the former Republican governor of New Jersey. She pressed President Obama to revisit some sort of cap and trade system for controlling carbon dioxide emissions--and made the argumentwhy the proposal should be embraced by Republicans. It is my hope that my Republican colleagues will see the wisdom of a market-based system for funding a public good -- all very much Republican principles. We must be willing to have open and honest discussions about the need to reduce emissions, about what reasonable caps look like and about the effort it would take to achieve necessary changes.While Whitman hopes for compromise between President Obama and the Republican-lead House, Carol Browner advocates for ways the president can act with his executive authority and without partisan gridlock. Browner is the former EPA head under Bill Clinton (and more recently, the director of Obama's Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy), and she lays out things the president can do on his sole authority and by using existing energy laws. The Supreme Court has affirmed the E.P.A.’s authority to limit greenhouse gases that endanger public health. As he did with the car companies, the president should use the existing authority to work with the electric utilities and power plants to craft a sector plan to reduce carbon pollution and secure greater energy efficiency while providing business certainty.In the day since the election, both President Obama and Republican leaders have expressed hopes that both sides can find common ground on issues. The most pressing of these is the fiscal cliff, but it will be interesting to see if any olive branches are extended in energy policy.