Obama picks former utility exec, NRDC co-founder to head Commerce

Posted: Jun 1, 2011

Written by

John Bryson

President Obama will nominate environmentalist and former utility executive John Bryson to lead the Commerce Department, a White House official said today.

The former chairman and CEO of California-based Edison International, Bryson also co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970 and more recently served on the United Nation's advisory group on energy and climate change.

Obama will announce the nomination at the White House this afternoon, an administration official said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Bryson would oversee a sprawling department that represents U.S. business interests and oversees oceans, climate and science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Bryson would replace Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, whom Obama has picked to serve as ambassador to China. As Commerce secretary, Locke frequently had to answer to lawmakers about the department's efforts to revamp new climate and weather monitoring satellites.

Bryson retired from Edison in 2008 and has served on a number of corporate boards since, including the Walt Disney Co. and Boeing Co. He is co-chairman of the Pacific Council on International Policy. The group's current work includes a task force on climate adaptation.

A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, Bryson served on several California resource boards before joining Edison. He was president of the California Public Utilities Commission from 1979 to 1982. Prior to that, he served as chairman of the California Water Resources Control Board.

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