Obama Paints Cabinet Green

President-elect Barack Obama on Monday named an environmental and energy team that he said signaled his determination to tackle global warming quickly and develop alternative forms of energy. He vowed to "move beyond our oil addiction and create a new hybrid economy."

Obama selected Nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Chu as energy secretary and Carol Browner, a confidante of former Vice President Al Gore, to lead a White House council on energy and climate. Browner headed the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration.

Chu is director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, and is a leading advocate of reducing greenhouse gases by developing new energy sources.

"His appointment should send a signal to all that my administration will value science. We will make decisions based on the facts, and we understand that facts demand bold action," Obama said.

Obama also announced his choice of Lisa Jackson, former head of New Jersey's environmental agency, as EPA administrator.

"We can spark the dynamism of our economy through a long-term investment in renewable energy that will give life to new businesses and industries with good jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced," he said.

"We'll make public buildings more efficient, modernize our electricity grid, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while protecting and preserving our natural resources. We must also recognize that the solution to global climate change must be global."

Separarely, an Obama transition official said Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar will be named Interior Secretary later this week, rounding out the environment and energy team.

Salazar is a first-term Colorado Senator who has established a name for himself on public lands and energy resources issues. He headed the Colorado Natural Resources Department from 1990 through 1994. The Interior Department has broad oversight over U.S. energy resources and environment. It oversees oil and gas drilling on public lands and manages U.S. parks and wildlife refuges.

Sources with knowledge of the decision also said that Obama has chosen Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan to serve as education secretary.

Duncan has run the third-biggest U.S. school district for the past seven years, focused on improving struggling schools, closing those that fail, and getting better teachers.

Obama has avoided taking sides in a debate between reform advocates and teachers' unions, and the choice of Duncan may please the competing factions. Teachers' unions wanted an advocate for their members, while reform advocates want teachers and schools held accountable.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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