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Obama names first 'climate czar' for U.S.

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  • Nobel-prize physicist Steven Chu named secretary of energy in Obama's cabinet
  • New post created in White House for energy and climate policy coordinator
  • Obama said he would invest $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy
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CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- U.S. President-elect Barack Obama announced key members of his energy team on Monday, naming physicist Steven Chu as secretary of energy, and former EPA administrator Carol Browner to a new post in the White House to coordinate energy and climate policy.

Carol Browner was one of four key environmental nominees named by Obama.

Carol Browner was one of four key environmental nominees named by Obama.

Obama also named Lisa Jackson, former head of New Jersey's environmental agency, to serve as his Environmental Protection Agency administrator, and Nancy Sutley, the Los Angeles deputy mayor for energy and environment, to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Sutley, a prominent supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, is the first high-ranking gay appointee to the Obama administration.

"In the 21st century, we know that the future of our economy and national security is inextricably linked with one challenge: energy," Obama said at a news conference to introduce his energy team.

"We've seen Washington launch policy after policy, yet our dependence on foreign oil has only grown, even as the world's resources are disappearing," he said.

"This time has to be different. This time we cannot fail, nor can we be lulled into complacency simply because the price at the pump has for now gone down from $4 a gallon."

Obama called Chu "uniquely suited to be our next secretary of energy" for his work on new and cleaner forms of energy. Chu, who runs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, won the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics and is highly respected in energy circles.

Browner, who was administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration, was named to be the nation's first "climate czar," working inside the White House on policy issues.

"Carol understands that our efforts to create jobs, achieve energy security, and combat climate change demand integration among different agencies, cooperation between federal, state, and local governments and partnership with the private sector," Obama said.

He said that Jackson, as commissioner of New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, helped make that state a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing new sources of energy.

"Lisa also shares my commitment to restoring the EPA's robust role in protecting our air, our water, and abundant natural resources so that our environment is cleaner and our communities are safer," Obama said.

Sutley has been "at the cutting edge" of environmental work on the municipal and regional level, Obama said. She will be "a key player in helping to make our government more efficient in coordinating our efforts to protect our environment at home and around the globe," he added.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised the appointment of his deputy mayor to a national post.

"With Nancy on my team, we have made tremendous progress -- from quadrupling our renewable energy portfolio to exceeding the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol four years ahead of schedule," he said in a written statement.

Energy is one aspect of the president-elect's goal to create 2.5 million jobs by 2011. The plan aims to put Americans to work updating the country's infrastructure, making public buildings more energy-efficient and implementing environmentally friendly technologies, including alternative energy sources.

During his campaign, Obama said he would invest $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy. He proposed increasing fuel economy standards and requiring that 10 percent of electricity in the United States comes from renewable sources by 2012.

All About Alternative Energy TechnologyGlobal Climate ChangeBarack Obama

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