Obama's energy/EPA picks: the press release avalance

Press release writers have been busy cranking out missives on the incoming administration’s picks to lead the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency. Most of them have nice things to say (what a surprise!), but there are some interesting exceptions.
Here’s a collection of statement put out about Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy, Carol Browner as the new energy and climate policy czar, Lisa Jackson to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and Nancy Sutley to head the president’s Council on Environmental Quality.
Texas oil man (and wannabe wind/natural gas vehicle tycoon) T. Boone Pickens said the Chu/Browner appointments “are excellent signals that the new Administration is going to be very serious about developing a national energy policy which is strong on alternative fuels, on using domestic resources and on conservation.”

“I recently met with Carol Browner in her capacity as the head of the energy transition team for the President-elect and was impressed by her understanding and appreciation of the energy crisis facing America today …”

The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation (advocates greater federal investments for basic research in the physical sciences and engineering) lauded Chu’s “extraordinary scientific achievements” and notes he “has demonstrated outstanding management and leadership skills as Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.”

“Moreover, as a member of the committee that wrote the National Academies’ “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” Dr. Chu understands that DOE basic research, as well as basic research at such agencies as the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, is essential to maintaining our innovation edge. With the nation working to recover from recession and chart a path to long-term economic growth, no investment is more important in the long run than basic research.”

Amory Lovins, Chairman and Chief Scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute, said he was supportive of Chu’s selection but had this advice:

• “Get the nuclear weapons and nuclear cleanup missions out of DOE into other civilian agencies, so we finally have an open, unclassified DOE focused exclusively on its civilian energy mission.”
• “Separate Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: they must be closely coordinated but merit separate Assistant Secretaries and budgets.”
• “Combine the divisions that promote fission and fusion. They won’t be getting much money anyway if we choose the best buys first and focus on technologies headed for deployment in competitive markets.”
• “Name and shame energy subsidies. Desubsidizing the whole energy sector, so we pay for our energy at the meter or pump, not through our taxes, would be immensely helpful to our prosperity, security, and environment.”
• “Be bold. This is our last and best chance to get energy right. We know how; we just need to go do it.”

The Energy Future Coalition said Obama’s naming Browner “signals the importance [Obama] attaches to an effective inter-agency process.”

“Steve Chu understands both the urgency of the climate challenge and the importance of encouraging scientific research and technological innovation to address that challenge.”

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) “appreciates that President-elect Obama has consistently signaled his support for biodiesel, and the industry looks forward to working with Carol Browner to ensure that biodiesel plays a constructive role in the nation’s overall energy strategy.”
The Nuclear Energy Institute noted that Chu’s nomination “has sent a strong message that America’s energy leadership will be entrusted to an advocate for the expanded development of carbon-neutral sources of energy. Dr. Chu recognizes the role that nuclear energy plays in reducing greenhouse gases in our electricity generation portfolio.”

“Chu was one of several directors of DOE National Laboratories to sing a white paper on the role of nuclear energy: A Sustainable Energy Future: The Essential Role of Nuclear Energy, the NEI statement notes.


The Wilderness Society was gushing with praise for all the nominees:

“We enthusiastically endorse President-elect Obama’s selections, and welcome the chance to work with these four excellent appointees toward a greener future for America.”
“These appointments signal a much-needed recommitment to caring for our land, water, and air and addressing the urgent threat that global warming poses to these resources and the human communities that depend on them. The president-elect’s recommitment to sound science in shaping environmental and energy policy is a breath of fresh air at a time when science has been discounted for so long.”

The Environmental Defense Fund called the announcements “a strong slate of experienced leaders.”

The energy czar post ” … reflects a deep commitment to leadership on climate change, and Carol Browner brings the perfect combination of experience and drive to the job. She understands that solving climate change will help rebuild our economy,” said Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund.

Not everyone is so happy, however. The Competitive Enterprise Institute calls the appointments ” … the wrong direction for America.”

“They are well-qualified and capable. The problem is that Ms. Browner and Dr. Chu enthusiastically support President-elect Obama’s energy and global warming policies, which would push America in the wrong direction,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Energy and Global Warming Policy for CEI.
“Mr. Obama has said that he wants to lower oil prices, yet his policies would raise gasoline prices to European levels of five or six dollars a gallon. His other global warming policies would send electricity prices through the roof. Mr. Obama proposes to achieve energy independence from foreign oil, yet he has consistently opposed increasing domestic oil production. He proposes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically, yet hasn’t noticed that emissions are going up in the European Union and Canada, which ratified the Kyoto Protocol requiring emissions cuts. He wants to create 2.5 million green jobs (down from the campaign promise of 5 million), yet doesn’t recognize that this will be a net negative to the economy. Forcing consumers to pay more for “green” energy will mean less money in their pockets to spend at their local Starbucks or Wal Mart or on vacation travel.”

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