How Green Are Obama's Cabinet Picks?

For more environmental news and humor, sign up for Grist's e-mail list.

The Picks

Lisa Jackson
Lisa Jackson.

EPA Administrator: Lisa Jackson

While many enviros have had nice things to say about Jackson, she's been a controversial figure in New Jersey, where she served as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection from February 2006 to November 2008. Some N.J. groups say she's done great work on climate, energy, and clean water, but others have been critical, particularly of her handling of toxic waste sites.

More background on Jackson.

At her Jan. 14 confirmation hearing, Jackson promised that "scientific integrity and the rule of law" would be her guiding principles at the EPA.

Steven Chu
Steven Chu.

Secretary of Energy: Steven Chu

Steven Chu, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has been an advocate for clean energy and is widely respected in the environmental community. Watch him discuss energy issues.

At his Jan. 13 confirmation hearing, Chu was warmly received, but quizzed about his skepticism toward coal.

Ken Salazar. Photo: Mike Disharoon
Ken Salazar.

Secretary of the Interior: Ken Salazar

Some grassroots conservationists from the West are unhappy with the Salazar nomination, though some big, national green groups are saying nice things about him.

Background on Salazar.

At his Jan. 15 confirmation hearing, Salazar pledged to "clean up the mess" at the Department of Interior.

Tom Vilsack
Tom Vilsack.

Secretary of Agriculture: Tom Vilsack

The sustainable-agriculture community is disappointed in the choice of Vilsack, who has been a big booster of agribusiness and genetically modified crops. But two Iowa food activists say Vilsack is someone progressives can work with (see here and here).

Read a 2007Grist interview with Vilsack.

Vilsack encountered no resistance at his Jan. 14 confirmation hearing.

Carol Browner
Carol Browner.

Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change: Carol Browner

Browner, who was EPA administrator during the entire Clinton administration, has been a long-time acolyte of Al Gore.

More background on Browner.

And watch her discuss energy and climate.

Nancy Sutley
Nancy Sutley.

Chair of Council on Environmental Quality: Nancy Sutley

Sutley is generally well respected in the environmental community; folks think she'll work well with chief energy adviser Carol Browner, noting that the two worked together previously at the Clinton EPA.

More background on Sutley.

And watch her discuss transit and green jobs.

At her Jan. 14 confirmation hearing, Sutley pledged to be "the voice for the environment" in the White House.

Heather Zichal
Heather Zichal.

Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change: Heather Zichal

Read a 2008

Grist interview with Zichal.

Jane Lubchenco
Jane Lubchenco.

NOAA Administrator: Jane Lubchenco

Jane Lubchenco is an accomplished marine scientist and long-time conservationist who has been vocal about the dangers posed by climate change.

Background on Lubchenco, and info on the challenges she faces.

John Holdren
John Holdren.

Science Advisor: John Holdren

Holdren, a Harvard physicist, has been outspoken about the need to fight climate change.

Background on Holdren.

Hilda Solis
Hilda Solis.

Secretary of Labor: Hilda Solis

Solis is expected to champion green jobs at the Labor Department. She will be charged with implementing the Green Jobs Act, which she helped to push through Congress in 2007. She's been a long-time advocate for environmental justice and ally of the labor movement.

More background on Solis.

At her Jan. 9 confirmation hearing, Solis talked up green jobs.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton.

Secretary of State: Hillary Clinton

Clinton -- who will be overseeing international climate negotiations -- had a strong climate and energy platform during her presidential run.

Read a 2007 Grist interview with Clinton.

At her Jan. 13 confirmation hearing, Clinton cited climate change as a key diplomatic concern.

Ray LaHood
Ray LaHood.

Secretary of Transportation: Ray LaHood

Enviros and urban planners don't quite know what to make of LaHood.

Janet- Napolitano
Janet Napolitano.

Secretary of Homeland Security: Janet Napolitano

Napolitano has spoken out against the border wall that divides Arizona from Mexico; the wall has been found detrimental to the environment.

James L. Jones
James L. Jones.

National Security Advisor: James L. Jones

Some environmentalists are worried about Jones, noting that he serves on the board of Chevron Corp. and is head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for 21st Century Energy, which is often at odds with enviros over energy issues.

Read up on Jones' energy views and how they may or may not matter within the National Security Council.

Peter R. Orszag
Peter R. Orszag.

Director of the Office of Management and Budget: Peter Orszag

Read about Orszag's views on curbing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Rahm Emanuel
Rahm Emanuel.

Chief of Staff: Rahm Emanuel

Emanuel -- who will be charged with running the White House and implementing the president agenda -- got high marks from the League of Conservation Voters during his time in the U.S. House.

Secretary of Commerce

Bill Richardson withdrew himself from nomination for commerce secretary on Jan. 4.


Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ }}

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.