This Farmer’s Sabbatical

A happier life may be possible if one has options. Or so it seems with me.

After holding eight different positions over 34 years with the federal government, retirement meant just doing something else – optimistically, something meaningful. So, farming appeared to be a worthwhile endeavor for me five years ago (and still is). Tending a piece of land and providing food for others seemed a noble trade that would be useful on many levels: maintaining my mental and physical health, increasing the supply and awareness of local/sustainable produce, helping the local economy, building a community of friends, and benefiting others from my – some say somewhat checkered – experiences.

Now, an option awaits where my past may also be helpful. Some of you may remember that my last government stint was in Washington DC with the EPA Office of Inspector General where I evaluated EPA programs (an agency under the executive branch). Being a Public Administration undergraduate, witnessing how regulatory agencies work (or don’t work) was enlightening on how the interplay of our three divisions of federal government (legislative, executive, and judicial) affected our society. In my opinion – from this experience and my graduate program in environmental science and policy – the EPA performs an incredible balancing act as a regulator and an enforcer for our natural resources and our health.

With this regulation history in mind, I have been surprised at what President Obama has achieved in the last three years in advancing critical regulations addressing our natural resources, specifically our air and the mitigating the future impacts of climate change, including the:

  1. Guidance requiring all executive agencies to consider the emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and climate impact of their regulatory actions,
  2. Executive Order that all regulatory agencies develop plans to reduce the use of fossil fuels by 28 percent by 2020 (EO 13514),
  3. Budget items that extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for renewable energy (primarily wind and solar) until 2020,
  4. New standards for cars and light trucks for Model Years 2017-2025 that requires performance equivalent to 54.5 mpg in 2025,
  5. New agreement between China and the U.S. – as the two largest emitting countries of GHGs – to commit to new reduction goals in GHG,
  6. Clean Power Plan, which is a historic and important step in reducing carbon pollution from U.S. power plants, and
  7. Leadership in the Paris Climate agreement that created a path for global cooperation to reduce GHGs.

All this while Congress was controlled by the opposite party, usually opposing all these actions and denying climate change’s negative impacts.

Observing all these actions enacted by Obama makes me realize how imperative it is for the next President to continue these efforts. So far, I see no Republican candidate supporting these efforts and a few that even propose these actions be reversed. This leads me to my next meaningful life option: working for the election of a Democratic President in 2016.

I love Bernie Sanders. I think he is energizing many citizens toward positive changes in our society. But, I do not think he is electable – sometimes on the political spectrum as far left as other candidates are far right. Thus, I will start volunteering full-time for Hillary’s campaign on January 4, 2016 and plan to continue until Election Day, November 8, 2016. If they’ll keep me.

It is way past time for an average female to be President. Certainly, we have experienced average white males (some say below average) in that role. And, Hillary is clearly above average in experience, intelligence, and patriotism. What other candidate could probably call almost any leader in the world and speak to him or her? Who in this country has served many years in a governor’s mansion, the White House, the Senate, AND as Secretary of State? All these qualifications does not necessarily lead to a successful Presidency (usually defined by events that occur while in office), but does give indications that she possesses a familiarity of the issues, with the possible solutions and potential unintended consequences, faced by the next President. This is not to say that she has not made political mistakes in her long public career – some she has regretted – but, overall, I think she has many strengths to handle the job. Including, keeping those actions enumerated above intact and enhancing them when possible.

So, I offer this periodical blog to my friends that are interested as I live this adventure. I am currently unaware of what possible roles I may play, where I may be, and the crazy twists and turn a Presidential campaign will hold. But, I encourage your feedback, questions, and discourse on my blog and will attempt to give an insider view, as much is allowed. Next blog will describe how one gets involved with such a campaign. Stay tuned…