Obama Begins to Fill His Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Team
by Charles Lemos, Wed Dec 10, 2008 at 04:03:34 PM EST
The New York Times is reporting that President-elect Obama will name Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy. Dr. Chu is currently Professor of Physics and Molecular and Cellular Biology of University of California, Berkeley and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 then as a Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University for his research in laser cooling and trapping of atoms. At Stanford, Dr. Chu spearheaded the Bio-X program bringing together scientists from physics, chemistry, biology and engineering backgrounds to work on complex issues such as climate change and alternative energy development. As director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Dr. Chu was instrumental in forging a research pact reached between UC Berkeley, oil industry giant BP, the Lawrence Berkeley Lab and the University of Illinois to develop technologies to reverse climate change. Under Dr. Chu, Lawrence Berkeley Lab has also been conducting research into bio-fuels and solar technologies.
The other three selections are all veterans of the Clinton Administration: Lisa Jackson for EPA administrator, Carol Browner as his "energy czar," and Nancy Sutley to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
-- Lisa Jackson, who would be the first black person to lead the EPA, is a former New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection commissioner who worked at the federal agency for 16 years, including under Browner when she was Bill Clinton's EPA chief. Jackson is a co-chairman of Obama's EPA transition team, and currently serves as chief of staff to New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine. A New Orleans native, she grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward, the area stricken by Hurricane Katrina. She holds chemical engineering degrees from Tulane University and Princeton University.
-- Carol Browner, who served as EPA chief for eight years under Clinton, will become Obama's go-to person in the White House overseeing energy issues, an area expected to include the environment and climate matters. Now chair of the National Audubon Society and on the boards of several other environmental groups, Browner has been leading the Obama transition's working group on energy and environment.
-- Nancy Sutley, the deputy mayor for energy and environment in Los Angeles and the mayor's representative on the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, is the first prominent gay to earn a senior role in Obama's new administration. She was an EPA official during the Clinton administration, including being a special assistant to the EPA administrator in Washington. She also previously served on the California State Water Resources Control Board and was an energy adviser to former Gov. Gray Davis.
Still left to fill is the Interior Department, which oversees the management of federal lands. Overall, it's an interesting mix of picks. One very outside the beltway for Energy and three others, all women, with ties to the Clinton Administration.
The "energy czar" post is still rather ill-defined as yet but Ms. Browner will likely counterbalance retired Marine Gen. James Jones whose appointment as National Security Adviser has prompted concern among some environmentalist groups. Gen. Jones leads an energy initiative within the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization that has long clashed with the interests of environmentalists.