Monday, December 25, 2006

Environmental Regulations, Public Diplomacy, and Senator Schwarzenegger

As City of Berkeley officials congratulate each other on being the first local government to put in place nano regulations, their governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is positioning himself as the frontrunner on environmental regulations, more broadly. Not surprisingly, Governor Schwarzenegger has much more of a sense for the national-level realpolitik of environmental issues than his City Council colleagues down in Berkeley. For him, energy conservation and environmentalism are critical tools for solving to the image problem that the U.S. continues to have in most parts of the world. Pro-environmental leadership by the U.S., he argues, will be a key component of successful public diplomacy:

"The war has dragged us down. There's no reason to get political, that's just the way it is," he said. "But you can balance it by being a great leader in the environment."

"The more America shows leadership in that area," he said, "the more we will be loved for that as much as they love us for our hamburgers and for our jeans and for our movies and for our music."

(For the complete Washington Post article, click here.)

Schwarzenegger’s focus on energy conservation and environmental policy is especially interesting, given the keynote speech by Susan Pinkus, Director of polling for the LA Times, at the convention of the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research this past November in Chicago. Pinkus speculated that Schwarzenegger may be positioning himself to run against Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer when her seat is up for re-election in 2010. For now, that means that California’s Republican governor and its two Democratic Senators push a joint environmental agenda in D.C.:

"California's two senators, Democrats Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, have told officials in Sacramento that they intend to model federal legislation on California's greenhouse gas legislation. Schwarzenegger said he is ready to go to Washington to testify on the issue."

(more here.)