Obama chooses team for energy, the environment
President-elect Obama intends to round out his environmental and natural-resources team with a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and three former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials from the Clinton administration.
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President-elect Obama intends to round out his environmental and natural-resources team with a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and three former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials from the Clinton administration.
The president-elect has selected Steven Chu for energy secretary, Lisa Jackson for EPA administrator, Carol Browner as his energy "czar" and Nancy Sutley to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Democratic officials said Wednesday.
Obama plans to name the four to the posts in the coming weeks. Still unclear is whom he will tap for interior secretary.
Officials close to the transition said support for John Berry, director of the National Zoo and a former assistant secretary at the Interior Department, was growing. But these officials also said Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva and California Rep. Mike Thompson also were in the running.
Among these posts, Browner's stands out because it's a new White House position.
She is expected to coordinate the various agencies that play a role in energy and environmental policy, especially on issues such as climate change that don't fit nicely in the silos of the federal government. Those agencies could include the EPA and the Transportation, Energy and Interior departments.
Six weeks before his Jan. 20 inauguration, Obama has only a few key posts left to fill: national intelligence director, the secretaries of housing, labor, education, transportation and agriculture and the U.S. trade representative.
Obama scheduled a news conference for today to name former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle as his secretary of health and human services. That choice has been known for some time.
Wednesday, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has been mentioned as a possible labor secretary, was in Washington meeting with Obama's transition team.
As for Obama's environment and natural-resources team:
• Chu was one of three scientists who shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997 for work in cooling and trapping atoms with laser light. He's a professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has been the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 2004, where he has pushed for research into alternative energy as a way to combat global warming.
• Jackson 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-chairwoman of Obama's EPA transition team and serves as chief of staff to New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine. She grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, an area stricken by Hurricane Katrina.
• 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.
• Sutley, 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 person to earn a senior role in Obama's administration. She was an EPA official during the Clinton administration.
White House drops
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is giving up on an effort to ease restrictions on pollution from coal-burning power plants, a key plank of its original energy agenda and one that put the president at odds with environmentalists his eight years in the White House.
President Bush had hoped to make changes to air-pollution regulations final before leaving office Jan. 20. In the midst of a coal-fired power-plant construction boom, the rules would have made it easier for energy companies to expand existing facilities and to erect new power plants in areas of the country that meet air-quality standards.
But the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday conceded it didn't have enough time to complete the rules changes.
The Associated Press
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
NEW - 07:13 AM
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is writing memoir
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.