President-elect Barack Obama has selected a deputy mayor of Los Angeles to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality, transition officials said Wednesday. Nancy Sutley is the first prominent member of the gay and lesbian community to earn a senior role in the Democrat's new administration.
With many of his top White House and Cabinet posts filled, Obama now is focusing on fleshing out his natural resources and environment team, and could formally introduce his choices for interior secretary, energy secretary and environmental protection agency chief within weeks if not days.
Two transition officials disclosed Sutley's selection on the condition of anonymity because Obama had not yet made the announcement.
As deputy mayor for energy and environment in Los Angeles, Sutley has a long record of working on environmental and natural resources policy.
She previously served on the California State Water Resources Control Board, responsible for protecting water quality and resources throughout the state, and was the energy adviser to former Gov. Gray Davis. During President Bill Clinton's administration, Sutley was an official at the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Officials close to Obama's transition say former New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Lisa Jackson and Mary Nichols, who heads the California Air Resources Board, are in the running for the EPA administrator post. Both women worked at the agency under Carol Browner, who is leading the energy and environmental policy team for Obama's transition.
Browner, who ran the agency for 8 years, is expected to be named to a new position in the Obama White House overseeing energy, environment and climate matters. The position of interior secretary is still in flux.
Support for John Berry, the director of the National Zoo and a former assistant secretary at the department, was growing, officials said. Gay and lesbian advocacy groups backing Berry, who is gay, were expected to meet with the transition team in Washington on Wednesday.
But officials said Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva and California Rep. Mike Thompson were still in the running to lead the agency, depending on how other positions shake out.