The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


Cast of Characters

Lubchenco Will Helm National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

By Juliet Eilperin
President-elect Barack Obama has tapped Oregon State University professor Jane Lubchenco, one of the nation's most prominent marine biologists, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lubchenco, a conservationist who has devoted much of her career to encouraging scientists to become more engaged in public policy debates, is also a vocal proponent of curbing greenhouse gases linked to global warming. The transition team could not be reached for comment, but several sources confirmed today that Lubchenco had been picked and was headed to Chicago for the upcoming announcement.

The appointment marks a shift for NOAA, which oversees marine issues as well as much of government's climate work. Lubchenco has criticized the agency in the past for not doing enough to curb overfishing.

Andrew Rosenberg, who served as deputy director of NOAA's Fisheries Service under Clinton and is now University of New Hampshire professor of natural resources and the environment, praised Lubchenco as an "absolutely world class scientist."

"When has NOAA been headed by a member of the National Academy and a fellow of the Royal Society?" he said, referring to America and Britain's most prestigious scientific societies. "That's exactly the right signal. It establishes NOAA as one of those key scientific agencies."

By selecting someone who's both a respected researcher and an active player in national policy discussions, Rosenberg added, "it's saying that science agencies have a role in policy. They need to be tightly connected, and I believe they will be tightly connected under Jane."

Posted at 3:10 PM ET on Dec 18, 2008  | Category:  Cast of Characters
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You are clueless on the state of the NOAA budget and a dreamer when it comes to the ability to move the NWS to DHS. Satellites are the major funding issue and the NWS will have to help pay for these (but NWS will be the primary user/beneficiary) as well as other line offices.

As for moving NWS to DHS, that would require Commerce and OMB signing off--ain't gonna happen. And if they did, then the Hill would have to approve and no one will support.

Finally, the links to weather and climate are too rich to be ignored--makes sense to have the NWS stand next to the National Climate Service (NCS) so you can easily hand off the products and services.

Posted by: Postde-subscriber | December 21, 2008 9:59 PM

Good choice. Does anyone know if she is related to Dr. Portia Lubchenco, a physician who practiced in Sterling, CO? "Dr. Portia" was a great person with an incredible personal story.

Posted by: jmw44 | December 21, 2008 8:50 AM

Actually, I like the Lubchenco choice. For those worried about the NWS, one should consider that better times are ahead, budget-wise, if the operations component is separated from the research component, and placed under DHS - or better yet - as an independent agency.

As the operational core of local warning services migrates into decision support for weather and non-weather emergencies, working hand in hand with DHS/FEMA (a revitalized FEMA at that) is a perfect fit.

The choice of Lubchenco is also a sign that a National Climate Service may be created, which will move those involved in long-term climate research now in NWS over there, freeing NWS to concentrate on short-term impact weather research and operations.

This will help everyone involved. The question is, how fast can it happen given Washington's amoeba-like bureaucracy?

Posted by: wxdancer | December 20, 2008 10:26 AM

Too bad a Meteorologist could not have been picked for an agency that is more than 50% weather and satellites. More global warming crap, while we all freeze our butts off this winter.

Posted by: miec | December 20, 2008 2:41 AM

I was working in the Administrator's office when Dr. Byrne was the Administrator. Now I am going to retire from NOAA with 42 years service. I sure hope the new NOAA Administrator (surely a mile stone putting a woman at the helm) can accomplish something positive!

Posted by: helenjgibson | December 19, 2008 9:38 AM

Rosenberg just does not get it as usual. NOAA is an "operational agency driven by science" as opposed to a "science agency." The science supports how you regulate the fishery, how you make the forecast, how you produce the chart but like most he fails to understand what NOAA is about. And considering well over half of NOAA's budget is weather and satellites, Lubchenco will have a lot to learn as she has little to no operational background. And she had better support the NWS. Many of us are watching.

Posted by: Postde-subscriber | December 19, 2008 8:53 AM

I earned a BS in Biology at OSU and, also at OSU, completed 2 years of postbaccalaureate studies in Wildlife Science and I would like to brag and say that I met or know her, but I’m afraid I cannot because I was not involved with marine biology at all and did not have any coursework in marine biology.

Former OSU President John Byrne was Administrator of the NOAA from 81-84, becoming OSU President in 1984. He was also at OSU from 1960-1981.

Posted by: SuzanneVesely | December 19, 2008 12:06 AM

Awesome choice. The oceans - deeply in trouble - will have a chance, though the challenges are daunting.

Posted by: gosherenko | December 18, 2008 9:55 PM

While I appreciate her scientific accomplishments, what experience does she have that will help her in running a massive, multi-billion dollar regulatory agency?

Posted by: oceanwatcher | December 18, 2008 6:47 PM

Folks, search "Ocean Currents".

Learn about the Thermohaline Conveyor.

Then, REALIZE, warm weather is NOT our Problem. An interruption of the Thermohaline Conveyor enough to shut down the Upper Level Gulf Stream it feeds, WILL precipitate the next Little Ice Age. Seismic activity could also SUDDENLY change the Stratospheric Conditions and plunge us into a Little-or Long, Ice Age as well!

Cold KILLS! Pestilence, Disease, and Exposure make Global Warming concerns a JOKE!

Not doing a Frigging Thing, while we have great conditions now for the Ice Age COMING, is a Bad Joke in the waiting!

ANY intelligent and INFORMED World Scientist would agree!

We are being led by OSTRICHES!

Politically MOTIVATED Ostriches!

Posted by: SAINT---The | December 18, 2008 5:11 PM

Looks like an all-out assault on global warming and environmental issues from the inner workings of the Obama administration. Conservative conflict will ensue...

Posted by: parkerfl1 | December 18, 2008 4:39 PM

This is outstanding news. Dr. Lubchenco is the best of the best, and NOAA is extremely fortunate to have her as its leader. She is someone who will put the "O" back in NOAA!

Posted by: jkenneync | December 18, 2008 3:24 PM

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