Everyone seems to agree about one thing concerning Vice President Cheney’s senior aide, F. Chase Hutto III. He never met an environmental regulation he didn’t just hate and oppose on principle. According to the Washington Post he has been instrumental in keeping our air and water dirtier than it needs to be. Just another day at the office in the Bush administration. Now, in the waning days of the Bush Reich, they want to name him a high official in the Department of Energy where he will in charge of policies related to climate change. The foundation of the climate change debate is the science, so it’s good at least that they want someone who is independent and with solid training in science to oversee the matter:
Hutto, 39, a Michigan native and a veteran of several successful GOP campaigns, has spent almost his entire career working for Republicans in Washington. He started out as an opposition researcher working on Spencer Abraham’s 1994 upset Senate victory and conducted similar research for two other Senate bids before serving on the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign as a vote-recount team leader in Duval County, Fla.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a law degree, both from the University of Michigan, Hutto worked briefly in the private sector at the firm Venable, Baetjer, Howard and Civiletti before joining Abraham’s staff on the Judiciary subcommittee on immigration in October 1997. As a Senate staffer, Hutto focused on issues such as electronic commerce and privacy; he shifted his focus when Abraham took over the Energy Department in January 2001 and Hutto became a senior policy adviser there.
Burnett said Hutto, a vocal proponent of the free market, argued during interagency climate policy meetings that Americans are attached to their cars and would be loath to sacrifice them to achieve greenhouse gas reductions.
At the White House, Hutto has been one of the oil and gas industry’s key points of contact for energy and environmental issues. (WaPo)
Errrr. OK. Let’s start over. He’s been described as a “deeply principled conservative.” That no doubt was the reason he helped scuttle a recent attempt to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration protect right whales from being mangled by ships. It shows just how principled he is. These were right whales, his conservative marine mammal cousins. And he didn’t give them a break. What a guy! And everyone agrees, too, that one of his principles is to do whatever Vice President Cheney wants him to. You have to admire that.
Don’t get the wrong idea. He’s not opposed to government action on hurting marine animals. The jay walking whales aside, Mr. Hutto was quite critical of NOAA for their slowness in responding to the energy industry:
Shell Oil petitioned the agency last year for an “incidental harassment authorization” that would have allowed it to injure or kill a small number of marine mammals in connection with oil and gas drilling off Alaska in 2008; Hutto inquired about getting a quicker decision on Shell’s request in light of the Arctic’s limited drilling season.
Don’t get the wrong idea about how powerful he is, either. He fights the good fight but sometimes he loses, and then we all lose. Like these times:
The conservative positions taken by Hutto and the vice president’s office have held wide sway in internal policy debates, but occasionally he was stymied, participants said. Burnett said that this year Hutto opposed tightening federal rules for smog-forming ozone — which is linked to thousands of premature deaths each year– and in 2005 he questioned why the EPA needed to limit mercury emissions from power plants, because the agency had just issued a rule that would have the incidental effect of somewhat reducing the toxic pollutant. In both instances, the EPA strengthened the protections over these objections.
Don’t get your hopes up, though. It’s possible Hutto won’t be graced with a nomination for the post by the Bush administration. It’s not really that necessary since if they just name him Acting Assistant Secretary it will have the desired effect of building his resume for the presumed cushy job with the energy industry after the Bush administration is finally excreted and in that time he can make policy decisions that a new administration might have a hard time reversing.
153 days to go and they are getting ready to vandalize the office before leaving the building.