Obama Science Adviser Supports Long-Term Coal, Nuclear Devt
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- President-elect Barack Obama's next senior science adviser, Harvard academic and vociferous climate change advocate John Holdren, is a proponent for clean coal and advanced nuclear energy, according to his previous speeches and policy work.
But the types of coal and nuclear generation that Holdren advocates is years away from commercial development, and it's questionable whether he will encourage near-term private-sector expansion of the two sectors.
Obama Saturday named the head of the Harvard Kennedy School's Science, Technology, Public Policy Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs as his next Assistant to the President for Science and Technology.
According to a Belfer biography of Holdren, the environmental professor holds degrees in aerospace engineering and plasma physics, and is a specialist in energy technology and policy, climate change and nuclear arms control. He has long been an outspoken advocate for strong governmental regulation to curb greenhouse gases.
Holdren's expertise fits squarely into Obama's plan to shift the country away from fossil fuel production and towards lower carbon-emitting sources and greater efficiency. The president-elect wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2050, and has stocked his cabinet with Nobel Laureate physics whiz Steven Chu as Energy Secretary and a raft of environmental regulators to transform the country's energy economy.
Like Chu, Holdren is an advocate of encouraging innovation in efficiency and renewable sources of energy, and analysts are forecasting a broad expansion of those sectors. But two sectors - coal and nuclear power - have expressed concern that their future under an Obama presidency was bleak given the Obama team's climate change policy and comments on nuclear funding and waste.
Coal-fired plants are the biggest generators in the country, but they also belch out more carbon dioxide than nearly any other industry.