Photo credit: Steven Snodgrass via Flickr/CC BY
In a crafty move that appears to have been designed to appease both a perpetually disapproving business world and the increasingly frustrated environmental community, Obama has tapped John Bryson to be the next Commerce Secretary. Bryson is a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council -- one of the nation's preeminent green groups -- and served as the CEO of Edison for 18 years. He served the UN, advising on climate issues. And he sat on the board of such multinational corporations as Disney and Boeing.
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.
The unspoken pitch Obama seems to be making by picking Bryson to head up the Dept. of Commerce is two-pronged: a) He's dedicated to appeasing the interests of big business while, b) showing the nation that addressing climate change can be good for big business.
And he's surely hoping to drum up some goodwill in the environmental community that he's alienated over the last few years with his disengagement on climate and clean energy issues.
Whether Bryson can help galvanize a business community that's adamantly opposed to lifting a finger to address climate change remains to be seen -- the Chamber of Commerce is still overwhelmingly obstinate in its anti-climate action stance. Nonetheless, the fact remains that if climate hawks could pick a guy to run the Department of Commerce, Bryson would probably be the man for the job.