Obama Picks Bay Area Scientist to Join Team

Steven Chu Runs Lawrence Berkeley Lab

President-elect Barack Obama has turned again to the Bay Area as he continues to add people to his administration.

Obama has announced his environmental and natural resources team.

It was disclosed last week that he has selected Steven Chu for energy secretary, Lisa Jackson for Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Carol Browner as his energy and climate "czar," and Nancy Sutley to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Agence France Presse reported Monday that Chu, a scientist and Washington outsider, was a Nobel laureate in 1997.  He earned his doctorate from UC Berkeley and has taught at both Berkeley and Stanford University.

"Since 2004 he has been running the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, which has a budget of 645 million and a staff of 4,000," AFP said in the article.

Chu, 60, is expected to lead the Obama effort to generate 2.5 million new jobs through "green" and new technologies aimed at making America more energy-efficient and less reliant on foreign oil.

Reuters reported that Chu has pressed aggressively to develop new alternative energy technology.

Reuters reporter Ayesha Rascoe said Chu has little political experience, but brings heavy technical prowess.

UC-Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who has known Chu for three decades since the two men worked at Bell Laboratories in the 1970s, released a statement praising Obama's selection.

"Steve Chu has been relentless about addressing the technical challenges of renewable energy in a deep way," Birgeneau said. "We will now have an energy policy that can mean the U.S. will have a chance of obtaining energy self-sufficiency through new technology."

Obama has already chosen UC Berkeley's Christina Romer to serve as chair of his Council of Economic Advisers.

Obama is tackling matters both domestic and foreign at the start of what is expected to be a jam-packed final work week before he travels to his home state of Hawaii for the holidays.

An announcement on who will be Obama's interior secretary isn't expected, but other top positions in Obama's administration could come later this week.

Obama began the work day meeting privately with his national security team, including Vice President-elect Joe Biden, incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Obama's transition office said the focus of the meeting was to discuss opportunities and challenges around the globe and is designed to help the new administration hit the ground running as of Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. The office said there would be more national security meetings before then.

Other attendees included: Eric Holder, Obama's chosen attorney general; Janet Napolitano, the next Homeland Security secretary; Susan Rice, incoming U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Obama national security adviser James Jones; and Mike McConnell, the current director of national intelligence.

Obama is planning to leave soon for a more than weeklong trip to Hawaii to celebrate the holidays and relax before his inauguration.

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