In January 2007, the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) was established by the University of Colorado and funded by several organizations to create a far-reaching strategy to inform the environmental policy of the next U.S. President. When Barack Obama took office in 2009, William Becker, the Executive Director of PCAP, presented hundreds of proposals to the White House in an effort to demonstrate that climate action must include more than just the cap-and-trade provisions that the new administration had already proposed.
PCAP's mission is to create a new 21st-century economy, completely carbon-free and based largely on renewable energy. According to Becker, PCAP has been able to influence public policy in several ways:
By recommending that the U.S. reach a bilateral climate deal with China: The U.S. subsequently signed several agreements with China to share technology aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
By recommending that President Obama issue an executive removing the gags from federal climate scientists: This became one of Obama’s first actions on environmental policy.
By recommending that the Obama administration overhaul federal energy management to beef up efficiency requirements for federal agencies, and to restore absolute carbon reduction targets that had been rescinded by the Bush administration: The Obama administration subsequently issued a new federal energy-management order that required agencies to develop absolute targets for greenhouse-gas reductions.
By recommending major budget increases to help states and communities to "engage in energy and climate actions" and to weatherize the homes of low-income families: This was part of President Obama's stimulus package in 2009.
A significant number of the 22 members who make up the PCAP Advisory Committee have left-wing leanings, or are connected to the funding networks of the left:
(a) Van Jones is the most controversial advisor in the PCAP. He became a socialist in 1992, then founded and headed the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which received more than $1 million from George Soros’ Open Society Institute. He was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and in March 2009 he was appointed to be President Obama's "Green Jobs Czar." Although he resigned this position in September 2010, he continued to influence White House policy through his position with PCAP. He rejoined the Center for American Progress in February, 2010 to lead its Green Opportunity Initiative.
(b) Terry Tamminen, Cullman Senior Fellow and Climate Policy Director of the New America Foundation, sits on the PCAP Board of Directors and serves as Chair of the Executive Officers of The Center for Climate Strategies (CCS). The CCS is an activist group that steers and rigs the environmental policy process towards bigger government and higher taxes. Tamminen developed and helped to pass California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which has been called the most “draconian” environmental law ever passed in America and will hurt the state’s efforts toward economic recovery when it takes effect in 2012.
(c) Larry Schweiger (President and CEO of National Wildlife Federation) and Jeremy Symons (Director of that organization's Global Warming Campaign) serve on the PCAP Committee. In his 2009 testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Schweiger stated that the world's climate crisis has been underestimated by top scientists, and advocates big-government solutions that would create green jobs and mandate carbon caps.
(d) James Gustave “Gus” Speth holds an endowed chair at Yale University and is a longtime environmental activist who has worked within the federal government and in the United Nations. He is the author of numerous books, including The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability (2008). This book argues that modern capitalism is “completely out of control” and “incompatible with the natural world.” The author also suggests that environmental activists must come to understand that “what is needed is transformative change in the [economic] system itself.”
(e) Brian Castelli is the Executive Vice President of the Alliance to Save Energy, a recipient of funding from the Energy Foundation, which has a history of committing its resources to the anti-capitalist agendas of radical environmentalism.
(f) Michael Northrop is the Program Director of Sustainable Development for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. He helps to direct a program that funds environmentalist organizations that view capitalism as essentially destructive to the natural world and seek to curtail industry.
(g) Heidi Van Genderen served as an assistant to the Wirth Chair, School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado (Denver), which houses the PCAP. She was also the Senior Policy Advisor at the Colorado Governor’s Office, and she helped to form Governor Bill Ritter’s Colorado Climate Action Panel. In addition, she was a Senior Energy Advisor at the Worldwatch Institute, which promotes a so-called "green agenda" that seeks to dismantle nuclear power plants.