President-elect Barack Obama announces key members of energy and environment team

CHICAGO -- Today, President-elect Barack Obama announced key members of his energy and environment team, including Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy; Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator; Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ); Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change; and Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

President-elect Obama said, "In the 21st century, we know that the future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked to one challenge: energy. 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 following White House announcements were made today:

Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy
Dr. Chu is director of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, and professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology at University of California, Berkeley. Winner of the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997, Dr. Chu served on the technical staff at AT&T Bell Labs (1978 –1987) and was a professor in the Physics and Applied Physics Departments at Stanford University (1987 – 2004). One of the world's most distinguished scientists, Dr. Chu commands deep respect from his peers, deftly manages a complex governmental organization, and has a keen sense of public service. He successfully applied the techniques he developed in atomic physics to molecular biology, and since 2004, motivated by his deep interest in climate change, he has transformed the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab into a broad and innovative research program on energy technologies. He has a BS in physics from the University of Rochester and his Ph.D from UC-Berkeley.

Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
Jackson became the head of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in 2006. She had previously served as DEP Deputy Commissioner before being appointed to the post by Gov. Corzine, and currently serves as Corzine's chief of staff. Her past experience includes management responsibilities at the Environmental Protection Agency's regional office in New York for the Superfund program, the federal program regulating hazardous waste cleanup projects; for enforcement programs at both EPA and DEP; and for New Jersey's Land Use Management Program. She is a professional engineer, having received her Master's Degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University and her undergraduate degree from Tulane University in her hometown of New Orleans. During her tenure at NJDEP, she helped develop the Northeastern states Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), serving as Vice President of its Executive Board. She has also focused on water issues, including expanding protections for surface waters that serve as sources of drinking water and habitat for endangered species.

Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Sutley currently serves as the Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment for the City of Los Angeles, and is also Mayor Villaraigosa's appointment to the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. She has previously served on the California State Water Resources Control Board, as Energy Advisor to Governor Davis and as the Deputy Secretary for Policy and Intergovernmental Relations within the California Environmental Protection Agency. During the Clinton administration, Sutley was a Senior Policy Advisor to the Regional Administrator for EPA, Region 9 in San Francisco and a Special Assistant to the Administrator at the Federal EPA in Washington, DC. Sutley has also served as the Policy Director for the National Independent Energy Producers and as an Industry Economist for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. She received her Master's in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and an undergraduate degree from Cornell University.

Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
Browner is Principal of The Albright Group LLC, where she provides strategic counsel in the critical areas of environmental protection, climate change, and energy conservation and security. Prior to her current position, she served as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a Cabinet-level position she held for eight years. Browner developed partnerships with business leaders, community advocates, and all levels of government. She is widely known for championing common sense, cost-effective solutions to pressing environmental and public health challenges. At EPA, she brought the climate change issue to the forefront and established climate change as an important environmental issue requiring action. Before EPA, Browner was Secretary of the State of Florida's Department of Environmental Regulation. She also served as Legislative Director for then United States Senator Al Gore.

Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
Zichal currently serves as the co-chair for the Energy and Environment Policy Team for the Obama Transition Team. Zichal served as the Policy Director for Energy, Environment and Agriculture for Sen. Obama's presidential campaign. Prior, she served as the Legislative Director to Senator John Kerry where she coordinated domestic and foreign policy. In 2004, she was responsible for the Kerry campaign's energy and environment policies. Heather also served as Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and U.S. Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ). During her tenure on Capitol Hill, she has been highly involved in legislative initiatives to create green jobs, tackle climate change, reduce dependence on oil, and protect natural treasures like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She grew up in Iowa and is a graduate of Rutgers University.

Read President-elect Obama's remarks from the press conference below:

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
Announcement of Energy and Environment Team
December 15, 2008
Chicago, Illinois


Good afternoon. Over the past few weeks, Vice President-Elect Biden and I have announced key members of our economic and national security teams. In the 21st century, we know that the future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked to one challenge: energy. So today, we’re pleased to introduce the team that will lead our efforts on energy and the environment.

In the next few years, the choices that we make will help determine the kind of country – and world – that we will leave to our children and grandchildren. All of us know the problems rooted in our addiction to foreign oil – it constrains our economy, shifts wealth to hostile regimes, and leaves us dependent on unstable regions. These urgent dangers are eclipsed only by the long-term threat of climate change, which – unless we act – will lead to drought and famine abroad, devastating weather patterns and terrible storms on our shores, and the disappearance of our coastline at home.

For over three decades, we’ve listened to a growing chorus of warnings about our energy dependence. We’ve heard President after President promise to chart a new course. We’ve heard Congress talk about energy independence, only to pull up short in the face of opposition from special interests. We’ve seen Washington launch policy after policy. Yet our dependence on foreign oil has only grown, even as the world’s resources are disappearing.

This time must be different. This time we cannot fail, nor be lulled into complacency simply because the price at the pump has – for now – gone down from $4 a gallon. To control our own destiny, America must develop new forms of energy and new ways of using it. This is not a challenge for government alone – it is a challenge for all of us. The pursuit of a new energy economy requires a sustained, all-hands-on-deck effort because the foundation of our energy independence is right here, in America – in the power of wind and solar; in new crops and new technologies; in the innovation of our scientists and entrepreneurs, and the dedication and skill of our workforce. Those are the resources we must harness to move beyond our oil addiction and create a new, hybrid economy.

As we face this challenge, we can seize boundless opportunities for our people. We can create millions of jobs, starting with a 21st Century Economic Recovery Plan that puts Americans to work building wind farms, solar panels, and fuel-efficient cars. We can spark the dynamism of our economy through long term investments in renewable energy that will give life to new businesses and industries, with good jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced. We will make public buildings more efficient, modernize our electric grid, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and protect and preserve our natural resources.

We must also recognize that the solution to global climate change must be global. I spoke a few days ago with Senator John Kerry, who updated me on the recent climate negotiations in Poland. Just as we work to reduce our own emissions, we must forge international solutions to ensure that every nation is doing its part. As we do so, America will lead not just at the negotiating table – we will lead, as we always have, through innovation and discovery; through hard work and the pursuit of a common purpose.

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.

Dr. Steven Chu is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who has been working at the cutting edge of our nation’s effort to develop new and cleaner forms of energy. He blazed new trails as a scientist, teacher, and administrator, and has recently led the Berkeley National Laboratory in pursuit of new alternative and renewable energies. Steven is uniquely suited to be our next Secretary of Energy as we make this pursuit a guiding purpose of the Department of Energy, as well as a national mission. The scientists at our national labs will have a distinguished peer at the helm. His appointment should send a signal to all that my Administration will value science, we will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that the facts demand bold action.

For my Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, I have chosen Lisa Jackson. Lisa has spent a lifetime in public service at the local, state and federal level. As Commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, she has helped make her state a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing new sources of energy, and she has the talent and experience to continue this effort at the EPA. Lisa also shares my commitment to restoring the EPA’s robust role in protecting our air, water and abundant natural resources so that our environment is cleaner and our communities are safer.

Nancy Sutley will be an integral part of this team as the Chair of my Council on Environmental Quality in the White House. In recent years, we have seen states and cities take the initiative in forging innovative solutions on energy. Nancy has been at the cutting edge of this effort – working as a Regional Administrator for the EPA, at the state level in Sacramento, and recently as the Deputy Mayor for Energy and the Environment in Los Angeles. Now, she will bring this unique experience to Washington, and be a key player in helping to make our government more efficient, and coordinating our efforts to protect our environment at home and around the globe.

Finally, the scope of the effort before us will demand coordination across the government, and my personal engagement as President. That is why I’m naming Carol Browner to a new post in the White House to coordinate energy and climate policy. Carol understands that our efforts to create jobs, achieve energy security and combat climate change demand integration among different agencies; cooperation between federal, state and local governments; and partnership with the private sector. She brings the unmatched experience of being a successful and longest-serving Administrator of the EPA. She will be indispensable in implementing an ambitious and complex energy policy.

Later this week, I will be announcing my designee for Secretary of the Interior, which will fill out my energy and environmental team. The Interior Department will play a critical role in meeting the challenges that I have discussed today.

Looking ahead, I am confident that we will be ready to begin the journey towards a new energy frontier on January 20th. This will be a leading priority of my presidency, and a defining test of our time. We cannot afford complacency, nor accept any more broken promises. We won’t create a new energy economy and protect our environment overnight, but we can begin that work right now if we think anew, and act anew. Now, we must have the will to act, and to act boldly.

Thank you.

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