On 23 February 2009, President Obama named Jon Cannon, Tom Strickland, and Kathleen Merrigan as nominees for three more major federal posts.

First, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) veteran Jon Cannon was selected to fill the deputy administrator post at EPA. Cannon, a University of Virginia law professor, served as a member of Obama’s EPA transition team. Cannon is known for authoring a controversial, six-page “Cannon memo” on greenhouse gas regulation while serving as general counsel for EPA during the Clinton administration. This memo prompted a petition requesting that the EPA use its authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. This petition resulted in a court battle culminating with the 2007 Supreme Court decision in Massachusetts vs. EPA.

The President has nominated Tom Strickland as the assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks within the Department of the Interior. Strickland was formerly United Health Group’s chief legal officer, as well as a managing partner at a Denver law office. In 2000, Strickland was involved in a water rights settlement that provided protection for the watersheds in the Rio Grande and Gunnison national forests. Strickland has been serving as chief of Staff for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and will continue in this role after confirmation.

For deputy secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, President Obama has chosen Dr. Kathleen Merrigan. An assistant professor and director of the agriculture, food and environment graduate program at Tufts University, Merrigan served as administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service during the Clinton Administration. Merrigan received a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in environmental planning and policy, and a Masters degree in public affairs from the University of Texas.

Former Governor Gary Locke (D-WA) is the latest candidate to take the top spot at the Department of Commerce. Locke has a long resume on trade with China, energy, and technology policy. As the Governor of a coastal state, Locke is also familiar with fisheries and coastal environmental policy issues - many of which are administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency within the Department of Commerce.

On 3 March 2009, Obama selected Sherburne Abbott as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) associate director for environment. Abbott is currently director of the University of Texas at Austin Center for Science and Practice of Sustainability, and Senior Lecturer in the College of Natural Sciences. At the University of Texas, Abbott has worked on developing university-wide, interdisciplinary research and education programs focused on sustainability challenges.

Dr. Margaret Hamburg is the President’s choice to serve as Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hamburg received undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University, and later conducted neuroscience research at Rockefeller University and the National Institutes of Health, as well as AIDS research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.


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