Monday 1 May 2017

I'll be back: Schwarzenegger aims to return as energy tsar

Nick Allen in Los Angeles

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the outgoing Republican governor of California, has indicated he would accept a position as an "energy tsar" in President Barack Obama's Democratic administration.

Mr Schwarzenegger suggested he would like to go to Washington and influence national policy on clean energy use, and promote environmentalism. The former Hollywood action star has until now refused to disclose what he plans to do after he leaves office next month.

Giving his first indication of what direction he wanted to pursue, Mr Schwarzenegger said he was a "very big believer in environmental issues" and wanted to build, at the national level, on legislation he enacted in California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Mr Schwarzenegger suggested he was an ideal person to appeal to the American public at large on environmental issues because of his "celebrity power, knowledge and experience".

He added that energy consumers were more likely to listen to him about the need for reform because he would not be seen as a radical, adding: "People are very receptive when I talk about these things because I'm a Hummer driver not a tree-hugger."

Mr Schwarzenegger did much to popularise gas-guzzling Hummer vehicles 20 years ago, but has since had his own converted to run on vegetable oil. California is now aggressively promoting the use of electric cars.

His intentions to affect national policy have already gone as far as planning a visit to Washington with George Shultz, the former secretary of state in the Reagan administration. They will call for a bipartisan approach on energy policy and focus on the need to reduce US dependence on foreign oil supplies.

Champion

Mr Schwarzenegger believes that approach will go down better with the American public, rather than "always talking about global warming, which turns some people off".

Asked if he would accept a position from Mr Obama, Mr Schwarzenegger replied that he would, leading to speculation that he could be used as a high-profile advocate for the use of solar, wind and other clean energy. It could also help Mr Obama's image as a champion of bipartisan politics.

In 2008, during a campaign rally for John McCain, Mr Obama's Republican opponent in the presidential race, the former Mr Universe mocked Mr Obama's policies, and his physique. "He needs to do something about those skinny legs," Mr Schwarzenegger told the rally in Ohio.

The president has clearly forgiven him and has praised Mr Schwarzenegger's efforts to combat climate change. In 2006, California passed a landmark law aiming to cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Mr Schwarzenegger has served two terms as California's governor. Earlier this year, his approval rating dropped to just 22pc. The incoming governor, the Democrat Jerry Brown, says the state faces a projected budget deficit of more than $25bn (€19bn). (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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