I’ve been eagerly awaiting to see who President-Elect Barack Obama would select for important science and environmental posts in his upcoming administration. In my opinion, his picks for other cabinet positions have been excellent. He is picking strong, smart, and capable people with lots of experience who can hit the ground running and who will be quickly effective to take over two wars and enact policies in a gravely troubled economy.
Today, Obama selected Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Chu for Energy Secretary. Chu is a great choice for leading the Department of Energy. He is an strong proponent of alternative energy and has an excellent understanding of the issues of our nation’s nuclear weapon stockpiles. It’s great to see such a brilliant scientist who has experience managing one of the world’s top research laboratories get such an important position.
Carol Browner will lead EPA as she did under President Clinton. She’s a good choice with lots of experience. It should also be noted that she’s not Robert Kennedy Jr. Robert Kennedy Jr. would be an terrible choice for EPA Administrator. He has little management experience and he strongly supports the discredited idea that vaccines cause autism. He’s not a proponent of good science.
These environmental, engineering, and science based agencies need to be led by people such as Steven Chu who value sound research and understand how science and policy interact.
Appointments for several more important science based agencies remain to be announced. These include NASA Administrator, and quite important to me both vocationally and avocationally, is the Interior Department which contains the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and US Geological Survey. It is a large and very complex bureaucracy which will need a smart and capable forward thinking manager. Not Robert Kennedy Jr.