Obama Makes Energy, Environment Appointments

President-elect Barack Obama today named an environmental and energy team that shows his determination to address global warming and to develop alternative forms of energy.

Obama selected Nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Chu as energy secretary and Carol Browner, a protege of former Vice President Al Gore, to lead a White House council on energy and climate. Browner headed the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration.

“For over three decades, we’ve listened to a growing chorus of warnings about our energy dependence,” said Obama. “We’ve heard president after president promise to chart a new course. We’ve heard Congress talk about energy independence, only to pull up short in the face of opposition from special interests. We’ve seen Washington launch policy after policy. Yet our dependence on foreign oil has only grown, even as the world’s resources are disappearing.”

Chu is the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., and a professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology at University of California, Berkeley.  He won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997.

“His appointment should send a signal to all that my administration will value science, we will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that facts demand bold action,” Obama said at his news conference.

Obama also named Lisa Jackson, former head of New Jersey’s environmental agency, as EPA administrator and Nancy Sutley, a deputy Los Angeles mayor, as chair of the White House Council on Environment Quality. He also Obama also named Heather Zichal to the position of deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change.

Obama’s energy policy is expected to be very different than that of President George W. Bush. He has promised aggressive moves to address global warming and invest and support research into alternative energy sources, including wind, solar and biofuels.

“America must develop new forms of energy and new ways of using it,” he said.

Obama has said he wants to spent $15 billion a year to boost alternative energy and energy conservation to make public buildings more efficient, modernize the electricity grid, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while protecting and preserving natural resources.

Deborah Creighton Skinner is the editorial director at BlackEnterprise.com

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