Climate change remains a top priority
Skeptics believed that the fiscal crisis would force Obama to put his plans to address global warming on the back burner. But in a videotaped speech to a climate summit co-hosted by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this month, Obama said, "Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option."
State officials hope that Obama will reverse a Bush administration decision and approve efforts by California and 16 other states to require automakers to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2016. Obama has said he supports California's position, but he'll face pressure from U.S. automakers, who claim that the rules could further harm their chances of survival.
His first big task will be to pick the next Environmental Protection Agency administrator, who will face a series of key decisions on climate change. California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols is seen as a top contender, along with New Jersey's Commissioner for Environmental Protection Lisa Jackson and Pennsylvania's Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty, who chaired President Bill Clinton's White House Council on Environmental Quality.