Obama names energy, climate team

December 16th, 2008 - 7:33 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Dec 16 (DPA) President-elect Barack Obama named the key players of his energy and environmental team Monday, promising both to revive the struggling US economy and revamp the country’s approach to global warming.Obama named Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and leading voice on alternative energy, to head the Department of Energy.

He named Lisa Jackson, the New Jersey governor’s chief of staff and a former leader of the state’s climate policy, to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Obama also named Carol Browner to a new White House position coordinating climate and energy policy. Browner led the EPA under former president Bill Clinton.

Obama said seeking alternative energy solutions and weaning the US off its dependence on foreign oil would form the cornerstone of his policy both to stimulate an economy in recession and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions blamed for global warming.

“There is not a contradiction between economic growth and sound environmental practices,” Obama said at a Chicago press conference, promising to harness alternative energy to create millions of new jobs in the US.

Environmental groups viewed Obama’s rhetoric and appointments as a sharp departure from President George W. Bush, who has in the past been skeptical of the science behind global warming and reluctant to force US companies to cut their emissions.

Obama promised a renewed focus on climate change over the course of his presidential campaign, pledging to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and a further 80 percent by 2050.

Obama’s creation of a new White House post to oversee environmental policy “reflects a deep commitment to leadership on climate change”, said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defence Fund.

In an implicit swipe at the current administration, Obama said his choice of Chu “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”.

Since 2004, Chu has headed the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a pioneer in renewable energy research and one of 24 regional labs around the country supervised by the Energy Department that he will now lead.

Outgoing Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said he had the “highest regard” for Chu as a leader who “understands the significance of our energy and environmental challenges, and more importantly, understands the technical solutions necessary to address them”.

Obama said he would later this week announce the ministers of interior, transportation and agriculture, whom he also sees as having a role in environmental policy.

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