WASHINGTON - President-elect Barack Obama intends to round out his environmental and natural-resources team with a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and three former Environmental Protection Agency officials from the Clinton administration.
In addition to New Jersey official Lisa P. Jackson for EPA administrator, Obama has selected Steven Chu, director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, for energy secretary; former EPA administrator Carol Browner as his energy "czar"; and Nancy Sutley, the deputy mayor for energy and environment in Los Angeles, to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Democratic officials said yesterday.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose names that have not been made public. Obama is expected to make the announcements in the coming weeks.
Today, Obama will hold a news conference in Chicago to name former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle as his secretary at Health and Human Services. That choice has been known for some time.
Six weeks before his Jan. 20 inauguration and little more than a month since his election, Obama has chosen much of his cabinet and top White House staff. He has only a few key posts left to fill: national intelligence director; secretaries of Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, Education, Transportation and Agriculture; and U.S. trade representative.
Chu, 60, was one of three scientists who shared the Nobel for physics in 1997 for work in cooling and trapping atoms with laser light. He is a professor of physics and molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and since 2004 has directed the Berkeley national laboratory, where he has pushed for research into alternative energy as a way to combat global warming.
Berkeley is the oldest of the Energy Department's national labs, doing only unclassified work, and in recent years under Chu has been at the center of research into biofuels and solar technologies.
Browner, who turns 53 next week, was EPA chief for eight years under President Bill Clinton. She will become Obama's go-to person in the White House overseeing energy issues, an area expected to include the environment and climate matters.
Now chair of the National Audubon Society and on the boards of several other environmental groups, Browner has been leading the Obama transition's working group on energy and environment.
Sutley, who is in her mid-40s, was an EPA official under Clinton, including as a special assistant to the EPA administrator. She also previously served on the California State Water Resources Control Board and was an energy adviser to former Gov. Gray Davis.
Sutley is the first prominent member of the gay and lesbian community to earn a senior role in Obama's administration.