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.
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.”
Carol M. 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.”
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.