John Bryson, BrightSource Energy’s chairman of the board, stood next to President Obama, and current Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, as the Commander in Chief announced Bryson as his nominee to become the next Secretary of Commerce. Bryson has a storied background in the energy and environmental realm. He was chairman and CEO of electric utility Edison International for almost twenty years and in addition to serving on the board for BrightSource, he sits on the boards of Boeing, Disney and clean technology startup Coda Automotive.
“John is going to be an important part of my economic team, promoting American business and American products across the globe,” President Obama said. “By working with companies here at home, and representing America’s interests abroad, I’m confident that he’s going to help us meet the goal that I set of doubling our nation’s exports.”
Bryson is credited with founding the National Resources Defense Council and served as an advisor during California Governor Brown’s first time in office. Bryson is additionally noted as leading the California Public Utilities Commission and the State Water Resources Control Board.
John Woolard, BrightSource president and CEO, responded to the news, stating, “John is a visionary and passionate leader. As Chairman of BrightSource Energy, John has demonstrated superlative management skills during a time of significant growth for our company. His experience and thoughtful approach in working with a wide range of stakeholders makes him an ideal choice to lead dynamic organizations.”
While many businesses and environmental groups lauded the President’s choice, the New York Time has reported that Senate Republicans were openly opposed to Bryon’s nomination. Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the senior Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, released a statement where he declared his intention to trounce Bryson’s nomination because of his environmental background.
“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,” Inhofe said.
Even though Thomas Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute called Bryson a “visionary” for his role in heralding the age of electric vehicles, The New York Time’s additionally reported that Inhofe went on to “[criticize] Bryson for speaking well of cap-and-trade legislation to reduce carbon emissions, saying it would cost jobs and raise the price of gasoline and energy.”
Senate Republicans openly admitted their intent to block any Secretary Commerce nominee until the President submitted pending trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea to Congress for legislative approval before they can be put into effect.
Although the President did not comment on the possible impediment in the nomination, press secretary Jay Carney stated, “It would be folly to hold up a nomination so important as the commerce secretary for any reason.”