Friday, November 09, 2012

Industry looks for change among Obama energy officials

Energy-industry officials and environmental groups are watching for change at the top in President Barack Obama's second term, with Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu seen as possible candidates to step down. Any new faces could have a big impact on some of the most important issues affecting the US economy, including the rapid growth of oil and gas production backed by new drilling technologies and the decline of coal. Mr. Salazar's spokesman said the secretary remains "focused on the job." The White House declined to comment on who might leave the Cabinet or when, and representatives of the EPA and the Energy Department didn't return messages seeking comment. Washington lobbyists and Capitol Hill staff are already circulating lists of possible candidates for the posts. The EPA job is particularly critical, whether Ms. Jackson holds it, because the agency must make decisions about regulating greenhouse gases in the coming year that could effectively block new coal-fired power plants. Presidents typically shuffle their cabinets going into a second term. The grueling workload and relatively low government salaries often prompt some leaders to step aside. Mr. Obama's allies in the environmental community were pleased with the selections of Mr. Chu and Ms. Jackson after his election in 2008. If they step down, the president's picks for successors could be an indication of whether he wishes to lean more in the direction of industry or environmental groups interested in global warming...more

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