Bush Environmental Advisor Plays Powerful Behind-the-Scenes Role

He might just be the most powerful environmental player you’ve never heard of. James Connaughton, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is credited with (or, in some circles, accused of) being the architect of the Bush administration’s environmental policy. In large part, his role consists of mediating between competing government agencies and other stakeholders as he tries to press forward with Bush’s stated goal of balancing environmental concerns with a desire for fewer regulations, increased energy production, and economic growth. A former corporate environmental lawyer and lobbyist, Connaughton sees himself as an “honest broker” between opposing interests, but enviros don’t necessarily agree. “There was some thought that he might be a moderating influence, but that hasn’t happened,” said Greg Wetstone of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Connaughton is now hard at work pushing Bush’s controversial “Clear Skies” bill, which Democrats and enviros say is far too weak to effectively combat air pollution.