Report: Holdren to Lead White House Science Policy
By Joel Achenbach
President-elect Obama will announce this weekend that he has selected physicist John Holdren, who has devoted much of his career to energy and environmental research, as his White House science adviser, according to a published report today.
The Obama transition office would not confirm Holdren's selection. Last night, asked by The Post to comment on the science adviser search, Holdren responded by e-mail that he would be unable to comment because of his work with the Obama transition team.
The report today appeared online at ScienceInsider, a news blog published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Holdren served as president of AAAS in 2006.
Holdren's career as a physicist has led him into a variety of fields, including climate change and environmental policy. He is on the faculty at Harvard, where he is Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy. He is also director of the Woods Hole Research Institute in Falmouth, Mass. He spent many years on the faculty at Berkeley, where he remains a professor emeritus.
According to the Woods Hole Web site, Holdren has been a prolific author of books dealing with energy and environmental issues. The titles include "Energy" (1971), "Human Ecology" (1973), "Ecoscience (1977), "Energy in Transition" (1980), "Earth and the Human Future" (1987) and, most recently, "Ending the Energy Stalemate" (2004).
The science adviser is officially the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, or OSTP, which is part of the Executive Office of the President. The position requires Senate confirmation.
The science community and congressional Democrats have lobbied the Obama camp to elevate the influence of the science adviser in the White House.
"You really have to have someone that the president trusts," said Rep. Bart Gordon (D.-Tenn), who chairs the House Committee on Science and Technology. "I would take the second best scientist over the first best scientist if there was a relationship there and the president could work with that person."
Gordon added, "It doesn't matter what their title is if they're not in the room. You got to bring 'im in the room."
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