Obama picks his team to protect US environment

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Barack Obama last night named a Nobel Prize winner as his top environmental and energy cabinet appointee, signalling that he intends to transform the way Americans consume energy and contribute to global warming.

The Nobel physics laureate Steven Chu is to take over the Energy Department, replacing Samuel Bodman as Secretary. The position has previously been granted to people with links to oil, coal and power industries; Mr Bodman ran a chemical company.

The President-elect said US problems were rooted in its addiction to foreign oil. "It constrains our economy, shifts wealth to hostile regimes and leaves us dependent on unstable regions. To control our own destiny, America must develop new forms of energy and new ways of using it."

Carole Browner, an advocate of the Kyoto Protocol who headed the Environmental Protection Agency under Bill Clinton, is also part of Mr Obama's energy and environmental team, which is made up of advisers who have a record of backing mandatory cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

In the harsh economic climate, Mr Obama sees opportunity for environmental reforms which he hopes will create jobs and lessen the US carbon footprint. He plans to use a billion-dollar economic stimulus package to change the way Americans use energy.