At the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term, several key members of his administration have stepped away from their government positions. Several of these positions, including Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, and Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lisa P. Jackson support and carry out the administration’s policies on alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, transportation, automotive and environmental issues, and have been key players in recent successes and advancements in these areas.

Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu is the co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1997), and has devoted his recent scientific career to the search for new solutions to our energy and climate challenges. In his tenure as United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu was charged with helping implement President Barack Obama’s policies to invest in clean energy, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, address the global climate crisis, and create new American jobs. As part of this work, Secretary Chu and the Department of Energy (DOE) administered many American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants, which funded millions of dollars in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle projects. Secretary Chu stated that he will remain in his position through the end of February, and potentially longer, until another Secretary of Energy is chosen. Following his departure, Secretary Chu plans to return to academia, resuming his post as a professor of physics and applied physics at Stanford University.

On Monday, March 4th, President Obama nominated nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz as Secretary of Energy.

In nominating him, President Obama said, “Few understand our infrastructure challenge better than the outstanding public servant that I’m asking to lead the Department of Transportation.”

Moniz, a nuclear physicist from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will replace Chu as the Secretary of Energy. Credit: MIT

Steven Chu, United States Secretary of Energy, gives the keynote address at the SunShot Grand Challenge Summit and Technology Forum in Denver, Colorado. Credit: Dennis Schroeder, NREL.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was a seven term member of the United States House of Representatives before his tenure as Secretary of Transportation. Credit: Department of Transportation.

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lisa P. Jackson, was the first African American to serve as EPA Administrator. Credit: EPA.

Secretary LaHood’s primary goals in implementing President Obama’s priorities for transportation included safety across all modes, restoring economic health and creating jobs, sustainability – shaping the economy of the coming decades by building new transportation infrastructure, and assuring that transportation policies focused on people who use the transportation system and their communities. As part of his achievements at the Department of Transportation (DOT), LaHood oversaw numerous transportation infrastructure projects funded through ARRA grants, Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, and presided over a review and revision of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

“These standards are important steps in the nation’s quest to achieve energy independence and bring more fuel efficient vehicles to American families,” said Secretary LaHood in March of 2009. LaHood has stated that he will remain in his position as Secretary of Transportation until his successor is confirmed.

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lisa P. Jackson, is the first African American to serve as EPA Administrator, and made it a priority to focus on vulnerable groups, such as children, the elderly, and low income communities that are particularly susceptible to environmental health threats during her time at the EPA. As administrator, Jackson pledged to focus on issues of protecting air and water quality, preventing exposure to toxic contamination in United States communities, and reducing greenhouse gases. She pledged that all of the agency’s efforts will follow the best science, adhere to the rule of law, and be implemented with unparalleled transparency. Along with the Department of Interior and the Department of Homeland Security, Jackson and the EPA coordinated federal emergency response efforts after the Deepwater Horizon spill. Jackson left her position on February 15, 2013 to pursue other career opportunities.

On Monday, March 4th, President Obama nominated Gina McCarthy, currently the assistant administrator for the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, to head the EPA.

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