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Chu, Browner to head Obama's energy team

Dec. 15, 2008 at 5:53 PM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu and former environmental watchdog Carol Browner were named by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama Monday to head his energy team.

Once again, however, a question-and-answer session was overshadowed by the corruption scandal surrounding Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and to what extent the Obama transition had any contact with the governor's office regarding Obama's vacant Senate seat.

The selection of Chu and Brown had been a poorly guarded secret.

Chu, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 and considered by many a leading voice in alternative energy, runs the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Browner, named by Obama as his "energy czar," was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator under President Bill Clinton.

"There is not a contradiction between economic growth and sound environmental practices," Obama said.

Other members of the energy team Obama introduced were Lisa Jackson as his administrator-designate of the Environmental Protection Agency and Nancy Sutley as chairwoman of the Environmental Quality at the White House.

When taking questions after his nominees were named, Obama said a "thorough and comprehensive" internal review indicated "there was nothing that my office did that was in any way inappropriate or related to the charges that have been brought" against Blagojevich, which include accusations he was trying to sell Obama's seat to the highest bidder.

Obama, who was asked by the U.S. attorney's office to delay releasing the findings for a week, repeated "there is nothing in the review that was presented to me that contradicted my earlier statement that this appalling set of circumstances has nothing to do with my office.

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