President-elect Barack Obama selected advisors and cabinet members this week who will shape the next administration’s policies on ecological issues. Announcing the appointees in his weekly radio address, Obama said, “The truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it’s about protecting free and open inquiry.”
White House science advisor: Harvard University physicist John Holdren. The science advisor is the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), which manages energy and environmental policy. Holdren is known internationally for his expertise on energy and climate change.
Head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco. Lubchenco, who served as ESA President from 1992-1993, is an outspoken advocate for scientists to become more actively involved in public policy discussions. Her appointment will likely turn NOAA’s focus away from commercial fishing interests and toward conservation measures to protect and sustain ecosystems.
Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change – or, as some have coined the position, “energy czar”: former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Carol Browner. Browner has guided Obama’s transition team on energy and environmental policy and expressed support for EPA’s authority to use the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The role of the energy czar is not yet fully clear, but will include coordinating between agencies to create jobs, improve energy security and combat climate change.
Other energy and environment appointees:
• EPA Administrator: Lisa Jackson, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection director. Jackson will be tasked with restoring the image of EPA, which has been accused of becoming too closely aligned with industry.
• Interior Secretary: Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado)
• Energy Secretary: Steven Chu, director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics
• Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality: Nancy Sutley, Los Angeles deputy mayor for energy and environment