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Obama's green team

At a news conference in Chicago Monday, Barack Obama announced many of his energy and environment appointees, a team that many say signals a sharp break from Bush administration policies toward pollution, wildlife, clean energy, and climate change.

By Blogger for The Christian Science Monitor / December 15, 2008

In a news conference in Chicago, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama introduced Nobel physics laureate Steven Chu as Energy Secretary; Lisa Jackson (center), chief of staff for New Jersey's governor, to run the EPA; former Environmental Protection Agency chief Carol Browner (right), to head a new council to coordinate White House energy climate, and environment policies; and Nancy Sutley, a deputy mayor of Los. Angeles, as head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality

Stephen J. Carrera / REUTERS

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At a news conference in Chicago Monday, Barack Obama announced many of his energy and environment appointees, a team that many say signals a sharp break from Bush administration policies toward pollution, wildlife, clean energy, and climate change.

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"In the 21st century, we know that the future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked to one challenge: energy," Obama said Monday, according to a press release. "The team that I have assembled here today is uniquely suited to meet the great challenges of this defining moment. They are leading experts and accomplished managers, and they are ready to reform government and help transform our economy so that our people are more prosperous, our nation is more secure, and our planet is protected. I look forward to working with them in the years ahead.”

The picks are as follows:

Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy

Mr. Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who runs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been tapped to head the Department of Energy, an agency charged with designing and producing nuclear weapons, disposing of radioactive waste, overseeing domestic energy production, and conducting energy-related research.

On that last front, Chu has spearheaded many clean energy initiatives at the Berkeley Lab, many of which have focused on using non-food plants to convert sunlight into liquid fuel. One of these initiatives, known as Helios, is expected to begin construction in 2010. Chu's Nobel Prize came in 1997 for his contributions to “laser cooling,” a method of trapping gaseous atoms with laser light. This technique makes it easier to study atoms.

Chu is highly respected in physics circles, but according to CNN, some Democrats are concerned at his lack of political experience.

If nominated and confirmed, Chu will be the first Chinese-American to hold this office.

Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

The Obama administration has created a new role in response to what it sees as a challenge in coordinating all of the federal agencies that have a hand in energy policy. These include the Transportation Department, which mandates fuel economy standards; the Interior Department, which grants permits for oil and gas drilling on federal land; the EPA, which regulates air quality; the Department of Commerce, which develops infrastructure to promote economic growth and sustainable development; and the Department of Energy.

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