December 10th, 2008
05:40 PM ET
9 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. Machiavelli, Baton Rouge, LA

    As a student of geology, I say Dr. Chu is a great pick for Energy Secretary. For years, I have prayed for someone from the scientific sector to head America's energy department.

    December 10, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  2. Uncle Fester

    A scientist! Yes! What a refreshing change from eight years
    of cronies put in positions that they had no business being in.

    December 10, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  3. Kevin

    WOW!!! This guy has no ties to the oil industry. I hope he does a good job.

    December 10, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  4. Ed

    fantastic choice

    December 10, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  5. FreeNLovIt

    Chu can always hire a TALKING MOUTHPIECE to help him out. There's plenty of them out there 🙂

    December 10, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  6. FreeNLovIt

    Or he envisions and Obama talks... it's about TEAMWORK...

    December 10, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. LF Oneto

    Another homerun for BO. The billions of USD that are going to be saved in his administration with capable, smart, and honest people being appointed to key posts will help ease the economic pit that we are in. Congratulations Mr. Presiden (acting).

    December 10, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. Robert Rice

    Its about time we get an expert in such an important position.

    Thank you, Pres Elect

    December 10, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  9. Another Republican for Obama

    I thought Palin is the energy expert of the USA; LOL!!!!

    December 10, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  10. sophie

    this is a really well thought out move. we can't let politicians decide what is best for our country in terms of energy, because frankly, they don't know squat about science. bring in the geek squad. about time.

    December 10, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  11. Damien from CA

    Finally we can get some serious brain power in Washington instead of the dumb and corrupted politicians

    December 10, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. Dave G

    Steven Chu championed an unprecedented alternative energy research pact between UC Berkeley, oil industry giant BP, the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and the University of Illinois.

    Perhaps BP understands climate change and peak oil makes it a good idea to diversify into alternatives. Hopefully Exxon/Mobil will get it as well.

    December 10, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  13. Voting for Obama again in 2012

    Yes! This is more of that "change" we all voted for! Finally! Smart people in the white house! Can you imagine that? Intelligent reactions to world events by people who know a thing or two about the subjects rather than more of the "Brownies" doing "a heck of a job!"

    December 10, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  14. jl2008

    Excellent choice. The less the political experience the better. Good job, Barack.

    December 10, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  15. Zack

    Whoa, an administration appointing a real live scientist, someone with significant education and training? This hasn't happened in at least...8 years. Thank God we won't be just praying for things to get better anymore.

    December 10, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  16. Soccer Nana

    A Nobel Prize Winner, Wow!

    December 10, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  17. Jen (FL PUMA)

    Yay! Finally some people with (gasp!) actual science backgrounds....

    Dr. Chu is a brilliant man, and will serve with honour and distinction.

    December 10, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  18. MLH

    Science? We are going to have people educated in science in Cabinet positions? I love Barack Obama! Chu is awesome – and did you see that he has a background in science? As for no political experience – the guy knows his way around the Scientific Establishment – he has political experience.

    December 10, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  19. Dee

    I'm glad he has no political experience, lol. That's great!!!

    December 10, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  20. No Hillary = No Obama

    Another brainiac with no political experience to reflect Obama's intelligencia elite.

    December 10, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  21. Bruce

    I don't think Dr. Chu is a good, but instead a brilliant choice. Let Dr. Chu come up with the plan, then let the politicians sell it. Brilliant!

    December 10, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  22. G.F.

    Remember how Palin was being touted by the McCain campaign as an expert on energy? I'm laughing so hard my gut hurts!

    December 10, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  23. richard


    December 10, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  24. sandee in Portland

    Hurray! Good choice! I am so pleased that he's bringing in someone who hasn't been a politician. This is what we need, more intelligent people without a personal agenda to make themselves rich and that don't want a career in politics, but people who are extremely smart and actually want to help our world.

    December 10, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  25. Ray Fisher

    Pardon me while I relish these moments after 8 gruelling years of "Brownies, Gonzos, Darth Vaders, Rummy's, etc.." the Bush Babies of incompetence and arrogance are leaving, we are finally getting a little competence back in our government!!! Now President Obama wants a physicist in the Department of Energy when the last department heads couldn't even spell physicist!!! I simply don't know how to act, what next a financial wizard for treasury??? Oh,pardon me again, Geithner is the head of the New York Fed.... All this competence is making me dizzy!!! Thank God...

    December 10, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
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