Earth Shakers: The Counter-Enviro Power List

James Connaughton: Chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality

May 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

Connaughton, 44, President Bush's senior White House adviser on the environment, has a broader scope of influence on green policies than any other Bush appointee—and has used it with notable success. He is among the most powerful advocates of the administration's "new environmentalism"—a sweeping shift away from federal regulations in favor of voluntary and incentive-based initiatives. And he coordinates environmental efforts between every federal office and agency, a job that includes weighing in on regulatory decisions at the EPA and the departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Energy.

Connaughton played a key role in developing the administration's Clear Skies bill, criticized as being blatantly pro-industry because it weakens Clean Air Act pollution-control regulations and does not address carbon dioxide emissions. He also helped the president promote the Healthy Forests Initiative, a management plan hotly contested by environmentalists for easing logging restrictions on federal lands.

Before he joined the White House team in 2001, Connaughton was a partner in the Washington, D.C., office of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, specializing in environmental law and lobbying to reduce government regulations on behalf of clients such as the Chemical Manufacturers Association of America.

SOUND BITE: In April 2004, President Bush met with gun and hunting lobbyists at his ranch in Crawford, Texas; according to the Chicago Tribune, he told the audience to contact Connaughton if they had any complaints about White House policy. "Hopefully, part of this relationship is to get Connaughton on the phone and tell him... you expect something different to take place."

NEXT UP: After the March defeat of Clear Skies, Connaughton will continue to promote the administration's controversial air-pollution agenda, which will likely be reintroduced on the Hill.

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