Three women will set out to reverse U.S. environmental policies that have caused a lot of heartburn for many greentech advocates in the past eight years.
Carol Browner, Lisa Jackson and Nancy Sutley have emerged as president-elect Barack Obama's choices for helping him boost greentech growth, create jobs and fight global warming.
Browner, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration, will take a White House post to coordinate energy, environment and climate change policies across federal agencies, reported The Washington Post.
Browner served as Al Gore's legislative director when Gore was a U.S. senator.
Lisa Jackson, who headed the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, will become the chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nancy Sutley, a deputy mayor of Los Angeles for energy and environment, will head the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
The names of these new appointees surfaced Wednesday night as reports began to circulate that Steve Chu, the head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, will become the new energy secretary (see Green Light post).
Not surprisingly, greentech companies are quite pleased with the selections.
"The new team shows how serious the Obama administration is to focus on renewable energy," said Julie Blunden, vice president of public policy at SunPower Corp., a solar panel maker in San Jose, Calif.
Obama hasn't officially announced the appointments. He also has yet to name his choice to head the Department of the Interior. The department's responsibilities include overseeing solar power plant development, wind farm building, mining and other activities by private companies on vast tracks of federal lands, especially in western United States (see BLM Lifts Moratorium on Public Lands for Solar).
Selecting Chu to head the U.S. Department of Energy will bring a renewed focus on greentech research. Chu, who won a Nobel Prize in physics in 1997, has been a champion of renewable energy research since he became the director of Berkeley Lab in California.
Chu's bio on the lab's Website says his ambition is to guide "Berkeley Lab on a new mission to become the world leader in alternative and renewable energy research, particularly the development of carbon-neutral sources of energy."
At the lab, he launched Helios, an initiative to use solar energy in developing transportation fuels. Helios scientists work on developing chemical converters and nanomaterials, for example, for producing biofuels.
Chu co-spearheaded the effort that won the Berkeley Lab a piece of the $500 million funding from BP in 2007 to set up the Energy Biosciences Institute, which aims to develop and commercialize biofuel and other technologies.
He also is a vocal advocate for energy efficiency research, which looks for ways to conserve energy use in data centers and buildings.
"He understands technology, and he knows how to lead a desperately needed wholesale change in a way we think about powering our country," said Andrew Beebe, managing director of Suntech Energy Solutions, a solar power plant developer in San Rafael, Calif. and part of Suntech Power Holdings, a Chinese solar panel maker.
"This was a choice – in line with what now seems to be the norm for this incoming administration – that was simply based on the ‘the best person for the job,' and not on who helped the most or which constituency needs placating," Beebe added.
Writer Jeff St. John contributed to the story.