It wasn’t one of those “Dear Colleague” memos from the Executive Editor announcing yet another scaling back of newsroom staff. Enough already. Whew!

This one, from New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller on December 17, instead was a move to capitalize on what he called the newspapers “long and distinguished record of covering the complex of issues loosely described as ‘the environment,’ climate change, pollution, endangered lands and species, the husbanding of the earth’s resources and all the related questions of business, politics, lifestyle and health.”

Reporting to The Times‘ highly regarded Assistant Managing Editor, Glenn Kramon, the project team will be led by Erica Goode, who Keller, in his e-mail to staff, described as “an editor who will wake up every day thinking of ways to push the story forward, to give it greater energy and focus.”

Keller said Goode “has the qualities that bring out the best in reporters – an unquenchable curiosity, compassion, skepticism.” The reporting unit to be headed by Goode – formerly an editor for the newspaper’s Science Times – will include reporters Andy Revkin and Cornelia Dean from the Science section, Felicity Barringer and Leslie Kaufman from National, Elizabeth Rosenthal from Foreign, Mia Navarro from Metro, and Matt Wald from the Washington, D.C., bureau. Keller said he sees the new unit having “close collaborative relationships with many news desks – including the energy/environment cluster in Bizday and the Washington Bureau.”

In a phone interview December 17, Kramon told The Yale Forum how he thinks Times coverage might differ as a result of the new organiztion. “I hope to see these reporters on the front page a lot more,” he said, adding that “I’ve been hoping for this for years” because there is “so much more to be done.”

Kramon, who has headed up the paper’s highly regarded long-running “Energy Challenge” series, called Goode “a dream editor for this … one of the most well respected editors in the building.” He said he counts Goode among the few journalists who can be “both a great editor and also a great reporter.”

“I can’t wait,” Kramon said, adding that the new organization gets officially under way with Goode in the post in mid-January.