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Volume 86 Issue 50 | p. 6 | News of The Week
Issue Date: December 15, 2008

Obama's Picks For DOE, EPA

DOE lab head, former New Jersey environment chief selected
Department: Government & Policy
Chu is Obama's choice to lead the Energy Department.
Credit: LBNL
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Chu is Obama's choice to lead the Energy Department.
Credit: LBNL

PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA made public several key energy and environmental appointments. Among them are Nobel Prize-winning physicist and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Steven Chu to lead the Department of Energy and former commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Lisa P. Jackson to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Chu, 60, has been a vocal advocate for increased basic research funding and has led efforts at LBNL and in the scientific community to intensify energy and climate-change-related research. He brings strong science, research, and leadership skills to DOE, say scientists familiar with his work.

He received a doctorate in physics in 1976 from the University of California, Berkeley, conducted research at AT&T Bell Laboratories after graduation, and was a member of the Stanford University department of physics from 1987 until 2004, when he was appointed to lead LBNL. He comes from a family of scholars who emigrated from China in the early 1940s. Chu won the Nobel Prize in 1997 with a team that developed methods to cool and trap atoms by using laser light.

Jackson, 46, had been commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, where she had worked since 2002. Prior to that, Jackson, a chemical engineer, worked at EPA for 16 years.

The coalition of state environmental groups, Environment America, and its sister group Environment New Jersey backed Jackson's nomination. However, the organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility criticized the nomination. The group said Jackson had politicized environmental decisions and retaliated against objecting employees.

In addition to Chu and Jackson, Carol M. Browner, a former EPA head, was selected to join the next Administration. She will take a newly created White House position advising Obama on environment, energy, and climate change. Nancy Sutley, Los Angeles deputy mayor for energy and environment, was selected to chair the Council on Environmental Quality.

Also last week, Obama formally nominated former South Dakota senator Tom Daschle to head the Department of Health & Human Services. In a move similar to the recent announcements, Daschle's appointment was leaked to the press weeks before it was made formal.

 
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