Historically, a seat in the Bush cabinet has required staunch conservative views on a wide range of issues, especially the environment. That is why many political pundits were surprised to learn that the White House has tapped noted conservationist and Wall Street financier Hank Paulson to the top post at the Treasury Department.
As a businessman, Paulson has amassed a personal fortune topping $700 million, much of which he pledges to donate to environmental causes. While he runs New York financial firm Goldman Sachs for his day job, he also serves as Board Chair for the Nature Conservancy, and is an avid and well-traveled bird watcher. Some Goldman Sachs shareholders have been frustrated by his efforts to steer the company toward greener operations and investments.
“I believe that the best, strongest, most efficient companies are going to have the best environmental practices. It is axiomatic,” Paulson tells reporters. While a lifelong Republican, Paulson takes issue with his party’s stance on global warming, which he considers a significant environmental challenge requiring more than voluntary measures. Indeed, environmentalists hope Paulson’s nomination signifies an opening up of the White House on some major green issues.