December 15, 2008 / 12:23 AM / 11 years ago

Obama to announce environment, energy team

CHICAGO (Reuters) - President-elect Barack Obama, who has vowed to adopt an aggressive approach to global warming and the environment, will announce his choices to lead the effort at a news conference on Monday.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama speaks during a news conference where he introduced former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as nominee for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in Chicago December 11, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Obama will hold a news conference at 5 p.m. EST to talk about “the nation’s energy and environmental future,” his transition office said on Sunday.

He is expected to name Nobel physics laureate Steven Chu as energy secretary and former Environmental Protection Agency chief Carol Browner to head a new council to coordinate White House energy, climate and environment policies, Democratic sources have said.

Obama is also expected to name Lisa Jackson, chief of staff for New Jersey’s governor, to run the EPA, and Nancy Sutley, a deputy mayor of Los Angeles, as head of the White House Council on environmental quality.

He is also close to naming a secretary of the interior — the federal department that leases public lands for oil and gas drilling. Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado, who once practiced as an environmental lawyer, is the leading contender, sources close to the transition said.

At the news conference, Obama will likely face more questions about Rod Blagojevich, Democratic governor of his home state of Illinois, who was arrested last week on charges of conspiracy to swap political favors for cash, including trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Obama.

Obama has said energy and the environment would be important to his administration. He wants to spend billions of dollars to promote alternative energy sources and create millions of green energy jobs.

News of Obama’s energy and environment team began trickling out last week. Environment groups applauded the choices.

‘GREEN JOBS’

The team will be charged with developing policies to reduce carbon emissions blamed for global warming. They will also try to develop new energy sources and create new jobs.

In a meeting last week with former Vice President Al Gore, Obama said attacking global climate change was a “matter of urgency” that would create jobs.

Obama hopes addressing climate change can create jobs that will help pull the U.S. economy out of a deepening recession. He has begun to lay out plans for a massive recovery plan to stimulate the economy and create about 2.5 million jobs — a portion of them so-called “green jobs.”

Browner, a principal at global strategy firm The Albright Group LLC, had a long history at the EPA.

Chu would be the first Asian-American to lead the energy department. He shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics for developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light and has directed the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California since 1994.

Jackson was New Jersey’s environmental protection commissioner until she became the governor’s chief of staff this month.

Salazar is from the western part of the country, where most Interior secretaries come from. The son of Americans of Mexican descent, he would be the second Hispanic in Obama’s Cabinet.

Additional reporting by Tom Doggett and Michael Hirtzer

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