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The New Energy Team

by Joanna Klonsky
December 11, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama has reportedly selected his nominees (WSJ) to top energy and environmental posts in his incoming administration.   His picks will face a tall policy order, including dealing with the challenges of climate change, decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, and converting the country to alternative energy sources.

Obama has promised to invest $150 billion over ten years in private alternative energy efforts in hope of creating five million new “green” jobs.  He also plans to create an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. On the campaign trail, Obama said he would make sure ten percent of U.S. electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025 (PDF).

Though Obama has not formally announced his nominees, here is a look at the experts he is likely to tap to carry out this agenda:

Carol Browner: Browner, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Bill Clinton’s administration, is said to be Obama’s nominee for the new post of White House “energy czar.” Browner is currently principal of the Albright Group LLC, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s consulting firm.

Steven Chu: Chu, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, is Obama’s probable pick for energy secretary. Chu was an early voice on the dangers of climate change, and has in his role at Berkeley Lab worked extensively on developing carbon-neutral energy sources. In his new role, Chu will be charged with the managing the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and with seeking a solution to the mounting energy challenges facing the country.

Lisa Jackson: Jackson was most recently the New Jersey commissioner of environmental protection. She will reportedly be nominated to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Jackson served as a top EPA enforcement officer in Washington and New York for sixteen years. If selected, she will be the first African-American EPA chief.

Nancy Sutley: Sutley, the deputy mayor of Los Angeles, will likely be Obama’s selection to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Sutley previously served as energy adviser to California Gov. Gray Davis’, and as deputy secretary for policy and intergovernmental relations with the California EPA.  Under the Clinton administration, Sutley was senior policy adviser to the EPA’s regional administrator in San Francisco, and was a special assistant to the Federal EPA’s administrator in Washington.

For more on Obama’s campaign promises and record on energy policy, see this CFR.org Issue Tracker

For profiles of Obama’s Cabinet picks so far, see CFR.org’s Transition 2008 page

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