- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Experienced bureaucrat Lisa Jackson has been tapped by President-elect Obama to serve as the next Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Carol Browner, Steven Chu and Nancy Sutley will play key roles in shaping and enforcing U.S. environmental policy during the next administration.
Carol BrownerWell-known to the environmental industry, Carol Browner will be the first to serve in the newly created position of Energy Coordinator, which will be tasked during the Obama administration with coordinating environmental and energy initiatives. Browner served as the EPA Administrator for the entirety of President Clinton's two terms in office. Appointed in 1993, Browner made a name for herself in fighting off Congressional Republicans' attempts to amend the Clean Water Act. She expanded the agency's public-private partnerships through Project XL and the Common Sense Initiative.
The boundaries of Browner's new position are as-yet not entirely clear. Some in the media have taken to calling the position the "Energy Czar." It is presumed that Browner will function as a power broker, bridging the gap between the EPA and Energy Departments, and coordinating the efforts to reduce the effects of climate change.
Since President Bush took office, Browner was a member of the Albright Group, and chaired the Audubon Society. She recently served on the advisory board for the Obama-Biden transition team.
Lisa Jackson, P.E.Jackson, who becomes the first African American EPA Chief, has a lot of experience inside the agency, and working with it from state agencies. She spent 16 years with the EPA, both in Washington, D.C., and later moving up through the ranks to head Superfund policy at EPA Region 2 (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), as well as serve as the region's deputy director and acting director of Region 2's enforcement division. Since leaving the agency in March 2002, she served as head of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, was tapped as chief of staff to N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine, and played a key role on the selection committee for Obama's transition team.
Corzine, in an interview with Think Progress recently, offered, in praise, some key insight into the type of administrator that Jackson would project to be. "Lisa Jackson is, without question in my mind, someone who has overwhelmingly been successful as an environmentalist, but ... she has also been a person who understands that we have to move in a disciplined, thoughtful manner. We can't do everything at once," said Corzine.
However, environmentalists are wary of Jackson's reputation as a politician. In a press release issued by the environmentalist organization Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Jackson was labeled, "a pliant technocrat who will follow orders," and "should not run EPA." The group chastises Jackson for policies at the New Jersey DEP that the group likened to the EPA under President Bush. "DEP employees describe Ms. Jackson as employing a highly politicized approach to decision-making that resulted in suppression of scientific information, issuance of gag order and threats against professional staff members who dared to voice concerns."
Jackson was profiled by PE in November among a list of potential candidates for EPA Chief. In that preview, it was noted that environmentalists might consider her a pro-industry pick. Click here to read it.
Steven Chu, Ph.D.Steven Chu, tapped by Obama as the next Energy Secretary, is one of the nation's top scholars on physics and molecular and cell biology. According to his biographical page at the University of California, Berkeley, since 2004 he has served as the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He also previously served as the chair of the physics department at Stanford University. His time in the private sector includes four years in the 1980s as head of the quantum electronics department for AT&T Bell Laboratories, and prior to that as a Bell Laboratories technical staffer.
Steve Chu won a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997 for his work in trapping an atom. He has also won widespread acclaim for his research in laser cooling. Chu more recently put together an unprecedented research pact with energy giant British Petroleum. He is considered one of America's best experimental scientists in the fight to find a solution for global climate change. His father emigrated to the United States from China during World War II to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, five years before Steven was born.
Nancy SutleyAlso joining the new administration, Nancy Sutley, a top environmental and energy advisor to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Democratic predecessor Gray Davis, will chair Obama's White House Council on Environmental Quality. The council, according to the White House website, "Advises the President and Vice President on national and international environmental policy matters, and works to ensure that federal agencies operate efficiently and in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act."
Sutley's major accomplishments include helping Los Angeles retrofit 500 of its oldest buildings to make them more energy efficient. She was a top EPA political official during the Clinton years. Sutley is also a prominent gay rights activist; during the primaries Sutley was chair of Hillary Clinton's California Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender steering committee.