Obama Names Top Energy, Environment and Budget Officials

Three nominees face Senate confirmation during contentious debates over energy, budget.

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday added three new names to his second term cabinet, deciding on a budget chief, energy secretary and head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The president picked top air quality official Gina McCarthy to head the EPA, physicist Ernest Moniz to lead the Energy Department and Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the new director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

All three nominees must be confirmed by the Senate.

"I can promise you that as soon as the Senate gives them the go-ahead, they are going to hit the ground running and they're going to help make America a stronger and more prosperous country," Obama said.

McCarthy, currently tasked at the EPA with overseeing greenhouse gas regulations, has taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and once worked for defeated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Moniz also hails from MIT and served as an undersecretary of energy when Democrat Bill Clinton was president.

"They're going to be making sure that we're investing in American energy, that we're doing everything that we can to combat the threat of climate change, that we're going to be creating jobs and economic opportunity in the first place," Obama said at a White House ceremony.

Obama has called on Congress to act to combat climate change and plans to introduce further efficiency standards for cars and push the development of wind, solar and cleaner natural gas energy.

His proposed reforms face a tough ride in Congress, however, and he has warned he will use executive power if lawmakers do not act -- a factor that could complicate the confirmation process for McCarthy.

Burwell was nominated with the White House embroiled in a string of spending and tax showdowns with Republicans, which saw the imposition on Friday of $85 billion in automatic budget cuts likely to slow economic growth.

She is a former OMB deputy director under Clinton from 1998 to 2001 and served as chief of staff to the secretary of the Treasury during the Clinton administration.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013

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