Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

The Need for Bold Leadership

January 2009

Citation: ELR 10064

Author: George J. Mitchell

As President-elect Barack Obama assesses the current state of environmental law and policy, he will face two large challenges: (1) legislative gridlock that has blocked action on a wide range of environmental issues for too many years; and (2) the daunting but important task of addressing global climate change. The key to meeting both of these challenges successfully is bold leadership.

The leadership needed to meet these two challenges requires two different but complementary attributes. First, he will require a vision and understanding of what is needed for current and future generations. Second, he will need a sensitivity and appreciation for what can be accomplished in the short term to create and start us on the path to long-term solutions.

In recent years, the media, interest groups, and some politicians have stressed partisan differences on environmental law and policy. To be sure, there are important differences between the parties on these issues. However, it is important to remember that local or regional differences, often unrelated to political parties, can lead to legislative gridlock that is just as difficult to untangle. Environmental law and policy have a long history and tradition of bipartisan cooperation and leadership. If we can honor and repeat that history and tradition, it will serve us well.

George J. Mitchell is the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader.

You must be a News & Analysis subscriber to download the full article.

You are not logged in. To access this content: