By Tim Purinton
With compelling rhetoric and a stinging frontal attack, John Kerry is taking a deep plunge into environmental issues and in the process redefining the role of Secretary of State. While many squabble over his diplomacy deliverables, Kerry is making a definitive case that the most powerful environmentalist in President Obama’s inner circle is not EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy or Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell (sadly I had to look her up) but the head of US foreign affairs.
Recently, Kerry announced a major conference on the world oceans. He is challenging the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and he continues to remind the global community that climate change is civilization’s most pressing concern.
Most refreshing is his unapologetic and acerbic tone concerning climate change. In a recent speech in Indonesia, he called climate change skeptics, “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction”.
Thrusting these issues onto the international stage marks a turn for the Obama Administration, which has left many pro-environmentalists disappointed and wary of any progress during his tenure.
Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton received mixed reviews from environmentalists. In particular, her wavering on Keystone XL agitated die-hard conservationists and those concerned with climate change. It will be interesting to see where Presidential hopeful Clinton will rest on the issue of importation of “Canadian Crude”.
For those following Kerry’s political career, this is hardly a surprise. As a Massachusetts senator, he was a sharp thorn in President George H. W. Bush’s side and was the standard bearer for climate change legislation, ocean conservation and clean air standards.
Kerry’s advocacy and honesty on environmental issues comes as a refreshing off-shore breeze in the stagnant political haze that surrounds the beltway.