Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) has accepted Barack Obama’s offer to serve as his chief of staff. As chair of the Democratic Caucus, Emanuel is the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House. Before his election to the House in 2003, he was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton.

The chief of staff is essentially charged with implementing the president’s agenda, and, appropriately, Emanuel has a reputation for getting things done. Many credit him with major Democratic pick-ups in the House in 2006, when he chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Some in D.C. call him “Rahmbo” — which could be an insult or a term of endearment, depending on who’s saying it.

rahm emanuelEmanuel has a respectable environmental record. In his time in the House, he’s earned a 90 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, and a 94 percent in the 110th Congress. He was a cosponsor of the 2007 energy bill, which included increased efficiency standards for automobiles and appliances. He also cosponsored a failed resolution calling for 25 percent of the country’s energy to come from renewable, domestic sources by 2025.

In 2006, he introduced the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Implementation Act to fund programs to protect and restore the Great Lakes, and in 2007 he sponsored a resolution calling for protection of the Great Lakes from dumping of industrial waste.

Earlier this year he sponsored legislation to spur production of natural-gas vehicles and provide tax incentives for natural-gas vehicle infrastructure, and another bill to increase tax credits for certain alternative vehicles produced in the U.S.

Of course, the chief of staff is charged with pushing the president’s agenda, not one’s own. But Emanuel seems to have a solid background for pursuing Obama’s energy and environment plans.