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USA: Obama Picks His “Green Dream Team”

Green Team

Obama’s green team (L-R): Carol Browner, Lisa Jackson, Nancy Sutley, and Steve Chu, with Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Yesterday, Obama announced his pick for Secretary of Energy.  He chose a Nobel laureate who is a keen supporter of alternative energy, and who has said that people saying that they are uncertain whether climate change is being caused by humans is “reminiscent of the dialogue in the 1950s and ’60s on tobacco.”

No, it was not Al Gore!

Obama picked the physicist and director of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, Stephen Chu – a decision that has won praise from scientists across the board.  “His appointment should signal to all that my administration will value science,” the President-elect said in a press conference yesterday. “We will make decisions based on facts.”

“Now, should he be confirmed, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who specializes in climate change and renewable energy and already knows how to run a decent-size bureaucracy is going to be in charge of realizing Obama’s bold promises to lead the United States toward an energy-sustainable future. Symbolically speaking, one would be hard put to draw a sharper contrast between the Bush and Obama eras than what is achieved by this single appointment,”

commented Andrew Leonard of Salon.com.

Alongside Chu, Obama chose Carol Browner as his “Climate Tzarina” who will coordinate between the different government agencies that deal with energy policy.  He also picked chemical engineer and former environmental policy official Lisa Jackson to head the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates air quality. Nancy Sutley, a Californian environmental officer, becomes head of the president’s Council on Environmental Quality.

Gene Karpinski, the head of the League of Conservation Voters, sums up the response from environmentalists, calling Obama’s choices “a green dream team.

Obama has frequently said that tackling climate change and creating energy independence were high on his list of priorities, and these announcements reinforce Obama’s claim that he will take significant action to on these issues early in his presidency.

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  1. Dan

    go obama!

  2. Niel Bowerman

    I was speaking to NASA climatologist Jim Hansen last night, when he said of Steve Chu’s pick, and I quote, “I can’t think of anybody in the world that would make a better choice for energy secretary”. That’s quite an endorsement!

  3. JBF

    Good ! I think a lot of Canadians will want, for Christmas, a government that is as committed to tackling Climate Change as Obama is!

  4. Chris Wright

    I am curious to see whether Obama’s economic nationalism will be reflected in his administration’s approach to climate negotiations, or whether he will be a Gore multilateralist. More than ever, the climate issue in the U.S (esp. in Congress) is tied up with concerns for economic security and international competitiveness. And during the presidential campaign, Obama was in favour of structuring bilateral trade deals that protect American workers. Now this may been retail politics in states with big manufacturing bases, but it will be interesting see how economics (and concerns about unemployment) influences negotiations on mitigation targets within the G20, especially since the G8 will be in a recession in 2009 whereas the big developing countries will have weaker, but still relatively strong growth rates.

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