Obama nominates Bryson LAW ’69 to Commerce Secretary

President Barack Obama nominated John Bryson LAW ’69 to the position of Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Tuesday.

Bryson, a director at the Boeing Company, the Walt Disney Company and Coda Automotive, Inc., will assume the position if his nomination is confirmed by the Senate. But Bryson faces strong opposition from Senate Republicans who said they will block his nomination unless they receive final trade legislation from the Obama administration.

Obama said in an announcement Tuesday that he believes Bryson, whom he described as a “fierce proponent of alternative energy,” would help the nation achieve several economic objectives by advocating for “clean energy.”

“In this new role, John will be able to draw on decades of business experience across a range of industries — from his role on the boards of major companies like Disney and Boeing, to his leadership in the clean energy industry,” Obama said in the Tuesday announcement. “That’s the expertise that will help us create new jobs and make America more competitive in the global economy.”

Obama said Bryson will be an “important part” of his economic team, adding that Bryson’s experience in the business sector and in energy and environmental policy would assist in meeting the goal of doubling America’s exports. Bryson served as a member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change and was a co-founder and attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. In another corporate role, he has served as chairman and chief executive of Edison International.

In particular, Obama said Bryson’s promotion of “clean energy” would reduce dependence on foreign oil and encourage the creation of new business in the States.

“John understands this better than virtually anybody,” he 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.”

Despite the President’s support, Republican politicians are pledging to block a Commerce Secretary or any other trade-related nomination until they receive final legislation on three trade agreements, the Associated Press reported. The free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are currently being drafted, but it is unclear when final legislation will be submitted.

“There are still technical discussions going on with the administration that always precede bringing them up in the Congress,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney ’87 said in a press briefing Tuesday.

Several Republicans opposed Bryson’s stance on environmental issues, in particular, the New York Times reported. Bryson has been a strong supporter of alternative energy, including the use of hybrid vehicles and solar energy.

Republican Representative from California Darrell Issa, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman, said Bryson was “just another green evangelist,” according to the New York Times.

“The nomination of John Bryson to lead the Department of Commerce seems deeply out-of-touch with out current energy challenge,” he told the Times.

Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, described the Bryson-founded NRDC as “a radical environmental organization,” adding that he would be “working actively” to fight his nomination, according to the New York Times.

Bryson could not be reached for comment.

Gary Locke ’72, the outgoing Commerce Secretary, was recently named the US Ambassador to China.

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