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Obama To Unveil Environmental Team


From NPR News, this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris. President-elect Barack Obama introduces his energy and environmental team at a news conference today. Leading the so-called Obama Green Team as energy secretary would be Steven Chu. He shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 1997. Mr. Obama also is expected to face questions about contacts between his staff and Governor Rod Blagojevich in connection with filling the president-elect's Senate seat. NPR's Brian Naylor is waiting for today's Chicago news conference. He joins us now from the Drake Hotel. And Brian, before we get to the environmental picks, the questions the president might face regarding the corruption scandal involving Governor Rod Blagojevich. What's the latest on that right now?

BRIAN NAYLOR: Michele, the Obama transition team put out a statement this afternoon that says according to their internal review, President-elect Obama had no, quote, "inappropriate discussions," end of quote, with Governor Blagojevich or his staff about the vacant Senate seat. The statement says the office will not release the review until next week at the request of the prosecutors so as not to impede their investigation.

NORRIS: Before we go on to the so-called Green Team, I just want to ask you about another Senate vacancy that's getting a lot of attention today. That's Hillary Clinton's New York Senate seat. We've heard for the first time of Caroline Kennedy's official interest. What might this mean?

NAYLOR: All the parties involved are being very coy, and no one's speaking for attribution, but apparently Caroline Kennedy, who served on President-elect Obama's vice presidential vetting team, but otherwise doesn't have a great degree of government experience, but she apparently is interested in taking the seat that Hillary Clinton now holds.

NORRIS: Brian, let's get to the business at hand there at the Drake Hotel. The president-elect will be rolling out that so-called the Green Team. Who do we expect to see today?

NAYLOR: Well, there'll be a number of appointees. Carol Browner, who was the environmental - the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration, is going to be named to head a new policy council inside the White House that is expected to coordinate climate, environment, and energy issues, that sort of thing. Steven Chu, as you mentioned earlier, is going to be the nominee for secretary of energy. He's a Nobel Laureate in physics and has spoken - been outspoken about the need to address climate change. Lisa Jackson, who has served on the staff of the governor of New Jersey, is going to become the nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency. And we're also hearing that a deputy mayor of Los Angeles, Nancy Sutley, will be named to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which is another administration job that deals with the environment and climate change and those kinds of issues.

NORRIS: Now a bit of trivia, Brian. I'm not sure you know the answer to this question right off the top of your head, but Steven Chu, as we noted, shared a Nobel Prize for physics back in the 1990s. Would this be the first Nobel laureate to serve in a Cabinet position?

NAYLOR: Well, as far as I know, it would be, Michele. There are other Nobel laureates who have become Nobel laureates after serving in the administration. But as far as I know, no Nobel laureate has served in administration already having been awarded the Nobel. This would be a first.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Brian Naylor speaking to us from Chicago. Brian, thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.