Senate Confirms Obama's Science Squad

Two experts on climate change joining administration

Thursday, Mar 19, 2009  |  Updated 9:15 PM CDT
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Team Obama

Associated Press

Jane Lubchenco will lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lubchenco, who specialized in overfishing and climate change at Oregon State University, is the first woman to head NOAA.

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WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed on Thursday two leading experts on climate change to represent top scientific positions in the government.

John Holdren became the president's science adviser as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Jane Lubchenco will lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Both have advocated sharp government action on climate change policy and are former presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation's largest science organization.

Holdren celebrated Thursday evening with staff at his new office, declining to comment except to say: "I'm very happy to have been confirmed."

Holdren was a Harvard physicist who went from battling the spread of nuclear weapons to tackling the threat of global warming. As Obama's top science adviser, he would manage about 40 Ph.D.-level experts who help shape and communicate science and technology policy.

The Senate also confirmed on Thursday former Oregon State University marine biologist Jane Lubchenco to head NOAA, which oversees ocean and atmospheric research and the National Weather Service.

Lubchenco, who specialized in overfishing and climate change at Oregon State University, is the first woman to head NOAA. A member of the Pew Oceans Commission, Lubchenco has recommended steps to overcome crippling damage to the world's oceans from overfishing and pollution and had expressed optimism for change after George W. Bush's presidency.

Lubchenco said science, not politics, will guide the agency as it confronts global warming, declining fisheries and forecasting natural disasters.

"This is a new era," she said. "Many issues will be seen through a different lens."

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