Today President-elect Obama made it official: a Nobel laueate physicist will head the Energy Department. A chemical engineer will head the Environmental Protection Agency. Looks like science may be in for a bit of a renaissance in the federal goverment.
Last week I blogged about the leak that Dr. Steven Chu, head of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, would be named to the Energy post. He won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997. Chu's been outspoken on the need to confront climate change with the best research and technology to prevent catastrophe for millions of people.
The nominated head of the EPA: chemical engineer Lisa Jackson. She's currently chief-of-staff for New Jersey's governor. She is quoted as saying that science and research need to once again be valued at the EPA.
"I know what it means to work on technical issues in a large agency and how important it will be for folks all the way up the chain, administrators, technical staff and attorneys alike, to know that their work will be valued."
A former Environmental Protection Agency head, Carol Browner, will work in the White House to co-ordinate federal efforts on climate and energy. That would mean she'll be trying to herd the cats in the Department of Energy, the EPA, Transportation, Interior, Defense and Commerce Departments. That's a lot of cats. Then she gets to deal with Congress whose members may agree on the reality of Iraq, but Congress still contains those who disbelieve Darwin and climate change.
Browner is a lawyer with considerable government experience. She'll need it. She and her allies will be working on some of the environmental laws Obama's team have indicated they want. Probably first would an economic stimulus bill with money for mass transit and utilities. Also there's expected to be a push for more renewable energy development. The Obama team has talked about pushing for more energy efficiency, not just in vehicles but broadly. Finally, the new administration will try to mandate lowered greenhouse gas emissions.