Obama Picks His Green Team

President-elect Barack Obama is reported to have selected three key environmental appointees yesterday. Each name comes with a history of activism on the issue of carbon emissions, and each is expected to have a significant effect on the laws and incentives surrounding green cars.

Steven Chu

President-elect Obama selected Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Steven Chu, to become the next Secretary of Energy. As the current director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Chu prioritized climate and energy issues, landing enormous grants from companies like BP, and encouraging research in the fields of solar energy and biofuels.

Chu’s appointment may signify that Obama is moving away from his support for ethanol—a support that was likely to be rooted more in politics than policy goals from the start. A passionate advocate for biofuels, Chu has been quoted as saying that “c†orn, at best, is a transition crop, but very quickly we want to transition away from corn to a grass that requires far less land for the amount of fuel, far less fertilizer, far less water.” Chu believes that within 5-10 years, one third of gasoline use can be replaced with biofuels other than corn-based ethanol.

“If you had an electric plug-in hybrid, how much would it cost to plug that car in and run around for 100 miles? It’s something at the level of one-quarter the cost of filling up with gasoline.”

Steven Chu

Carol M. Browner


Carol Browner

Throughout the Democratic primaries and general election, there was heavy speculation that whoever the next President may be, they’d be likely to create a “climate czar” position in the cabinet. Although the name of her position and its full list of duties have yet to be announced, it appears that Carol M. Browner will fill that role in the Obama administration.

As the coordinator of climate and energy policy in the White House, Browner is likely to have a role in crafting any government incentives for green cars, and would probably have a say in the conditions of a long-term bailout deal for Detroit. A veteran of the Clinton administration who has been described as an acolyte of former Vice President Al Gore, Browner is on the record as calling climate change “the greatest challenge ever faced.”

Carol Browner, speaking in March 2008, about what the next president should do on Day One: Grant California the ability to mandate cleaner cars.

Lisa P. Jackson


Lisa P. Jackson

An experienced environmental regulator, Jackson is another Clinton throwback, and brings with her a reputation for being a consensus builder. In her last job as commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection, Jackson was an outspoken critic of the Bush-era EPA, once calling it the “Emissions Permissions Agency.” The dig was a reference to the EPA’s refusal to allow individual states to set higher emissions standards than those laid out by the federal government. Jackson subsequently joined New Jersey to the list of states suing the EPA in an effort to overturn its ruling.

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  • ACAGal

    I’d like to see every one of Bush’s Executive Orders related to the environment over thrown too.

  • Sherry

    Of the money we have seen thrown around thus far let me ask you this, that 168 billion that our country borrowed to give away to us in the form of an “economic stimulus package” …did it do a darn thing to create jobs or stimulate our economy. NO, nothing. And we borrowed the money from China. This past year the high cost of gas nearly destroyed our economy and society. More people lost jobs and homes as a direct result of that than any other factor in our history. Fannie and Freddie continue to get all the blame. Of all the homes I have seen lost in my area SW FL and believe me I have seen many, none were due to an adjustable mortgage. They were due to lack of work. Families went broke at the pump alone. Then added to that were increased electric rates FPL raised ours 16%. The high cost of fuel resulted in higher production and shipping costs that were passed on to the consumer, in most cases higher prices for smaller packaging. Consumers tightened their belts, cut back, went out to eat less or stopped totally. Drove around on tires that needed replacing longer, some even quit buying medicines they really need. Unfortunately cutting back and spending less results in even more layoffs. A real economical catch-22. And, as we are doing the happy dance around the lower prices at the pumps OPEC is planning to cut production to raise prices. They are even getting Russia in on the cutbacks. Oil is finite. We have used up the easy to get to reserves already. It will run out one day. We have so much available to us. Solar and Wind are free sources of energy. Of course to get the harnessing process set up is somewhat costly it is still free energy. It would cost the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon to charge and drive an electric car. The electricity to charge the car could be generated by solar or wind at least in part and in most cases totally. Why not use some of these billions to promote the set up of alternative energy projects on a national level? Give tax breaks and incentives to promote this. We could create clean cheap electricity, create millions of BADLY needed new green collar jobs, and most importantly get out from under our dependence on foreign oil. We should never allow anyone to have that much control over us as a nation. If all gasoline cars, trucks, and suv’s instead had plug-in electric drive trains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota. What a powerful resources we have neglected. Jeff Wilson has a profound new book out called The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence Now. I suggest anyone interested in this subject read this book. http://www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com

  • Picky McPicky

    You are soo wrong. Gas had nothing to do with it. At the highest cost, gas in the car MAY have cost families $400 a month.

    Meanwhile, 50% of all loans in 2006 were interest only or Option Arms that deferred interest and added that interest to the principal of the loan. The reason that values of homes are dropping are because homeowners are defaulting on their mortages because of a combination of rate adjustments and the fact that many newer homeowners never had to prove their income and bought homes with no money down. In other words they bought way above their means, and bet that market appreciation would go on forever and turn their houses into money machines. Of course that didn’t happen, people realized that they couldn’t afford their mortgages and banks are foreclosing and then selling the homes in their REO departments for a huge discount to a new wave of homeowners that have a job, income and can document that with the proper documentation. That value depreciation is causing innocent people in neighborhoods across the country to have shrinking and even neagative equity in their homes….which negates using the home for college tuition, large purchases, and other uses that a Home Equity Line of Credit were traditionally used for.

    Your argument that gas caused this mess is messed up logic. Most put their gas on credit cards. Now given a choice, do you really think that people would choose credit cards over a house mortgage? No they couldn’t pay their mortgage because they couldn’t afford it to begin with. Their American Dream turned into an American nightmare.

  • Bryce

    woot, another berkeley pick. Go Cal. His economic advisor was my professor last semester. rofl

  • Picky McPicky

    Guess there’s no chance of any Stanford picks, huh Bryce? Condi was the last of my Cardinal for a while I assume.

  • Picky McPicky

    This may not be the proper forum, but I just read an article that Bush is in Iraq and that the Bail-out is on hold “for a while”. This could be W’s greatest legacy of his two terms. He would be doing this country a great favor by allowing the Big 3 go the bankruptcy route. It’s time to let the experts that bankruptcy demands decide the fate of the automakers and not government.

    It’s time to re-work the insane, rip-offs that are the UAW contracts. It’s time to cut the entitlement programs to laid off workers. It’s time to re-organize and compete dollar for dollar with the Japanese. If that happens…good by imports and hello the great American dream machine all over again.

    I laugh everytime I hear that Americans would not trust a company that files for bankruptcy again. We are so immune to bankruptcy. Many companies have had financial troubles, …AT&T, AOLTime Warner, Clear Channel, and many of the airlines. Listen folks, we will always need cars…we will always feel the propensity to shout USA…USA…USA when we are feeling a bit vulnerable. Bankrupcy will help folks. Feeding the fat cat addiction will not.

    I also bust a gut when I hear that somehow bankruptcy will cause a trickle down of disaster. I actually heard the Pelosi camp say that possible bankruptcy will affect the parts suppliers, mechanics, Autozone, Kragen and Pep Boys of the world. Who gave her that bit of nitwit thinking?

    Folks, let’s say the auto manufcaturers decide to stop production for a year…Auto Zone and mechanics should be jumping for joy. The minute a car gets driven off of a car lot, it begins its gradual breakdown…the older cars get, the more parts, service, and repairs are needed. This will be a huge boom for this industry. If there is bankruptcy, buy Autozone stock.

    Bankruptcy will cost America jobs for sure…Yes, there will be lay-offs…but that needs to happen anyway, bankruptcy or not, because Detroit is way too fat. I would hope that the Government is demanding a leaner, meaner Detroit before they lend money…As it stands right now, lending the Big 3 money is like letting a dog guard a room full of food.

    Action needs to be taken… GM needs to discontinue Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile and GMC and concentrate on Chevy, Saturn and Cadilac. Ford needs to whack Lincoln/Mercury and just be Ford and Chrysler needs to hang it up or just concentrate on trucks …What a terrible company.

    So Mr. Lame Duck Prez, stay in Iraq as long as you like…Stay for the holidays. Bagdad is beautiful this time of year. It would be your best political move of your very mediocre time in office.


  • bcurry_2000

    Picky…oldsmobile is long gone and Saturn is far from a profitable brand for GM. You might want to rethink (yes I’m aware of the Saturn commercials 🙂 your choice of brands to go and stay.

    Have you read the new UAW contract that goes into effect in 2010? It’s not a bad agreement. I do think the UAW should make it effective a year earlier to do their share to help out the Detroit 3, but they’ll have their share of blame if they do fail.

    I hear what your saying but this isn’t a black and white issue and I would hate to see an experiment of what happens to an automaker when they go into bankruptcy. Yeah you can talk about all the other companies and industries that have gone through the process, but your talking about a long term purchase that you have to live with for a anywhere from 3 to 15+ years not a 4 hour flight across country or a long distance phone call. Also with the credit squeeze if they go into bankruptcy most if not all of the financing would be coming from the federal goverment so why not give them the money but with conditions similar to bankruptcy, but without the stigma?

  • Picky McPicky


    Forgot about Olds…yes I have read the UAW contract…still not good enough top compete with the Asian Manufacturers.

    And bankruptcy is not exactly an experiment. Chrysler was in quasi bankruptcy in teh late 70’s and after reorg, emerged stronger and under Lee Iococa introduced K-cars and started the mini-van craze.

    We now have a new mission. Instead of K-cars and mini vans, we need energy efficient and alternative fuel cars. No matter how you look at it…bankruptcy type of reorgs need to take place. Whether you call it bankruptcy or a bail-out…the same implemtation strategies need to take place. And that will include lay-offs, torn up UAW contracts and a contraction of a fat Detroit.

  • Bryce

    Well, I guess I could make some Standford jokes about students buying grades and stuff like that……but I will take the high road……Go Bears…..beat Stanford. (o wait, we have, for the past 4 of 5 years)

    Buick being cancelled is unlikely due to its success in China. GM is committed to GMC, so there is no way they are getting rid of it. Saturn is under review right now, and proably won’t continue. (it really doesn’t make sense. Pontiac is being downsized into niche brand. (think corvette) Saab….well that will probably be gone soon, same for HUMMER. Cadillac and Chevy will always be there though.

    They already negotiated contracts putting laborers in line with foreign competitors, so that is a nill point.

  • Dom

    Looks like CARB is going to have free reign again… crap. I guess we’d better get ready to see our cars get even more expensive and less efficient for the sake of negligible tailpipe emission reductions. I wouldn’t be surprised if they effectively ban small diesels again.

  • Team building events

    The post is reporting that Obam has picked his green team. Useful post