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Obama’s science appointees called a team of all-stars

Accomplished and outspoken, they’re likely to tackle climate change head-on.

Harvard professor John Holdren, nominated this weekend, was one of the first scientists to speak out about the Bush administration’s political interference with science.

Keith Srakocic/AP/File

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Call it the “green team” or the “dream team.” Either way, President-elect Barack Obama’s choices to fill top science and environment-related posts in his new administration represent a remarkable assembly of talent.

With his picks well in hand, Mr. Obama is positioned to reverse what many see as eight years of sluggish action in the US and internationally on global warming. The picks also boost the prospects for wider use and further development of alternative energy sources. And the nominees – particularly those who come directly out of the science community – are expected to be strong advocates for erasing political interference with government research.

Many groups have sent the transition team a list of actions Obama could take to achieve the goals during the first 100 days, most of which could be accomplished by executive order.

“In terms of appointing top scientists to key agency positions, we haven’t seen the caliber of scientists we’re seeing now,” says Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. “Probably more important, we haven’t seen such highly respected scientists who also have been outspoken conservation advocates.

The challenge, however: Shaping a collection of driven, highly accomplished individuals – including two Nobel prize winners – into a group that can help implement changes Obama seeks in policy areas ranging from shaping a green economic recovery and more aggressive action on global warming to stem-cell research. That’s the view from several science-policy specialists as they look at the team Obama has named.


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