When Van Jones stepped in as President Obama's special adviser for the green job industry in March 2009, one of his initial goals was to "shape and implement job-generating climate policy," according to Green For All.
But Jones' job description became skewed when reports linked him to efforts several years ago suggesting U.S. government involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he found himself in the midst of a huge controversy, according to The New York Times. After less than six months on the job, Jones resigned over Labor Day weekend.
"On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me," Jones said in a statement on Sept. 6. "They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.
"I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past," he explained. "We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future."
The New York Times reports that several conservatives are now questioning Obama's judgment and policies, as Jones is the first environmental adviser to ever resign.
But Grist reports that Jones' resignation may actually be a step forward for progressives, as he is now a household name. According to The New Republic, before joining the White House Council on Environmental Quality, he was a public figure and a influential green jobs advocate, but he fell into the background in his official position.
Earlier this year, President Obama pledged to double the production of renewable energy over the next three years, create jobs in the development of new energy technologies and increase the energy efficiency of millions of American homes.