December 10th, 2008
05:40 PM ET
10 years ago

Officials: Chu likely to be named as energy secretary

Chu is Obama's choice for energy secretary, sources tell CNN.

Chu is Obama's choice for energy secretary, sources tell CNN.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama is likely to name Dr. Steven Chu, a physicist who runs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as his new Energy Secretary, three Democratic officials close to the transition told CNN.

The three officials said the announcement is expected to come next week in Chicago and that Obama will also unveil Carol Browner, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton administration, as the newly-created "climate czar" inside the White House itself.

Chu won the 1997 Nobel prize in physics and is highly respected in energy circles. But some Democrats have privately expressed concern that Chu has no political experience as he takes on the monumental task of passing a landmark energy reform bill early next year.

While Browner is seen as a shrewd inside player who could help the incoming Energy Secretary navigate Capitol Hill, Obama will face questions about how effective his team will be going up against oil companies and other special interests that do not want to change the status quo.

"Energy is going to be a huge fight," said one Democratic official close to the transition. "They need someone with the gravitas and force of
personality to make it happen."

Democrats in recent days have privately floated some other big names for Energy Secretary, including California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

But a source close to Schwarzenegger told CNN that the governor wants to serve out the rest of his term in the Golden State. A source close to Powell told CNN the retired general will take "no formal Cabinet role" in an Obama administration, but is leaving the door open to an informal troubleshooting role - such as Mideast envoy - if the incoming president has a specific mission that needs to be filled.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Obama is picking people who have some very serious credentials to backup their degrees just like he does. Republicans better take heed and look at people who are qualified rather than people who spread hate and division as their only credentials.

    December 10, 2008 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. mary wood

    President-Elect-Obama is doing a terriffic job. He has put together
    an Excellent, Smart, Experience and a Diverse Team.

    It amaze me that there are still people out there that want him to FAIL.
    That is sad. What should be important is that he keep our Country safe and properous. May God Help Us All.

    God Bless Obama and God Bless Us, and God Bless America.

    December 10, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  3. PK

    With so many people with expertise to choose from, how did Bush end up with a bunch of idiots in the past eight years. May be the rest of the world will realise finally that there are smart Americans.

    December 10, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  4. Gina

    Amen Jina! Its going to be impossible for him to please everybody. People will complain no matter what and a good mix is the smartest thing he could do. Running the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab is not a bystander position... it requires a lot of interaction and executive skills, in addition to an obvious expertise. Love this pick.

    December 10, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  5. sssssamiam

    This is REALLY good news for the scientific community. Everyone I know is ecstatic.

    December 10, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  6. Gobama


    December 10, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  7. epic fail

    we all know Asians are smart and obviously Obama does too so shut up and be glad we finally have a President who isn't a cocaine sniffing frat brat

    December 10, 2008 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  8. Denise Groves

    There ya go, Obama! Keep shoing the old white boy network that there are non-whites qualified for cabinet positions.

    December 10, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  9. Laura, ND

    And the brains just keep on coming...

    December 10, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  10. Larry

    I hope Chu thinks that global warming started 10 million years ago,that is when the ice began melting,and is the end of the last ice age.
    Mother Nature Rules,not MAN !!

    December 10, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  11. Jan Illinois

    Chu having no political experience, sounds like a blessing to all of us that have lived thru the Bush Administration. He should be welcome with open arms because they are all calling for energy freedom, but those who cry have no idea of how to fix it or wouldn't they have done it by now. Good Luck Chu and congrats for having no political affiliations.

    December 10, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. Baze

    Why does he need political experience? That's the problem, you can have a great idea, and it wont get traction because you're not full of ish

    December 10, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  13. HouseDiva

    I think that Chu is a great choice.

    This is indeed change.

    December 10, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. Cynthia - Arkansas

    Only the best and brightest need apply! This will be a great administration. No horse judges and unqualified cronies.

    December 10, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  15. Maddie, SD

    Seriously, a nobel prize winner? Americans are giddy. GW wouldn't be able to talk for 10 minutes with these people.

    December 10, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  16. Millie Gee

    Jina – I'm eye-rolling with you.

    First the criticism was that President-Elect Obama's selections was not "change." Now it's the fact he has no political experience. Can't please 'em, no way.

    December 10, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  17. brian

    excellent excellent choice

    it's so nice to know the next administration will embrace science.

    December 10, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  18. 2young2vote

    nice! I was hoping for schwarzenager, but this is much better! Ruling the country with scientific facts rather than political ideals.

    December 10, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Mwalimu Daudi

    Spiffy. Another out-of-touch rich liberal in thrall to the global warming cultists. Watch gas hit $10 a gallon within a year.

    December 10, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  20. That's The Ronald

    No political experience, no biases! It’s an awesome choice. And it’s someone who’s not on the board of directors of an oil or coal company.

    December 10, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  21. nate

    Change didnt mean the left, it meant getting things done. The right person for the right job, whether its Chu or Hillary.

    December 10, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  22. Joe C.

    "He has no political experience."


    "Waaaah! You're supposed to give it to one of us!!"

    Good pick Obama!

    December 10, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  23. Saintly in San Diego

    This is a wonderful pick! What's wrong with having a qualified someone at the helm other than a career politician?

    December 10, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  24. Lolita

    I think this was a great choice by President- Elect Obama. I’m sure he isn't stressing the negative comments towards his picks for his cabinet after all this is America and everyone feels as if they should voice their opinions just because they can.

    December 10, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  25. Dan, TX

    Maybe we can go back to having a strong America. You know, one that understands the importance of science.

    On the biology side: Folks, evolution is nothing to be afraid of. It has nothing to do with religion or God. Nothing in biology makes sense without evolution as a core concept. No cures for cancer without being guided by the central concepts of evolution. God bless science, God bless evolution.

    December 10, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
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