President Obama will nominate businessman and environmentalist John Bryson to become his next Commerce secretary, the Associated Press reports.
Bryson is a former chief executive and chairman of Edison International, a California-based energy company. His nomination signals the latest in a recent string of moves by the Obama administration to mend relations with the business community, but it will likely receive the warmest welcome from environmental advocates and their like-minded allies.
Bryson co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council, and also served on the United Nation’s advisory group on energy and climate change. Since Bryson retired from Edison in 2008, he has served on a number of corporate boards, including The Walt Disney Company and plug-in carmaker Coda Automotive.
Obama is expected to formally announce Bryson's nomination at the White House later Tuesday. If confirmed, Bryson would replace outgoing Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, whom Obama recently tapped as the next U.S. ambassador to China.
UPDATED at 1:45 p.m.: As promised, Obama made it official Tuesday afternoon. "John will be an important part of my economic team, working with the business community, fostering growth, and helping open up new markets abroad to promote jobs and opportunities here at home," the president said in a statement announcing Bryson's nomination.
UPDATED at 4:32 p.m.: Well, that didn’t take long. A Republican senator is already vowing to block Bryson’s confirmation because of his past climate advocacy work.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, the ranking member on the Senate Environment and Public Works panel, released this full statement only hours after Obama formally announced Bryson as his pick to lead the Commerce Department:
"By selecting John Bryson to head the Department of Commerce, President Obama is clearly demonstrating that he has no intention of backing down from his job-killing agenda. In fact, it is understandable that President Obama would select John Bryson as his nominee: he is a founder of a radical environmental organization and a member of a United Nations advisory group on climate change. Mr. Bryson once called the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill 'moderate'. This is legislation that would cost American taxpayers billions of dollars, destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs, and hurt families and workers by raising the price of gasoline and electricity. I will be working actively to defeat this nomination."