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Energy secretary candidate fan of efficiency, tech

Steven Chu, Obama's expected pick for energy secretary, and other environmental officials pave the way for tougher climate regulations and more investment in energy technology.

President-elect Barack Obama's reported choices for the top energy and environment officials set the stage for a dramatic change in policy on energy and climate change.

Citing Democratic sources, news outlets on Wednesday reported that Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu will be named energy secretary.

Nobel-prize winning physicist Steven Chu is said to have been nominated as the next energy secretary. Stanford University

Carol M. Browner, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, is expected to get a position overseeing energy, environmental, and climate policies. And Lisa P. Jackson, who is chief of staff for New Jersey's governor, is said to be the leading candidate for the head of the EPA.

These positions will be at the center of Obama administration's energy and environment policy, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions growth and have energy efficiency play an important role in an expected economic stimulus package.

The expected choices of Chu, Browner, and Jackson suggest that Obama intends to move aggressively on these goals.

"On policy, it's a dramatic contrast based on what I know about the policy direction that all these folks will be bringing to these positions," Daniel Lashof, director of the Climate Center at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told The Washington Post.

The top EPA post is considered a pivotal position for climate change issues as the agency could begin to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide.

Chu now heads the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and has been an advocate for government-sponsored spending on science and technology research to improve the nation's economic performance.

In the past few years, he's becoming increasingly involved in energy and climate change issues. In an interview with The Washington Post last year, he said, "I was following it just as a citizen and getting increasingly alarmed. Many of our best basic scientists [now] realize that this is getting down to a crisis situation."

He's a strong advocate of investing in energy efficiency and energy technologies to tackle climate change, noted the Wonk Room earlier this week.

In the video below, Chu speaks at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas this past summer about the dangers of climate change, including wars over natural resources like water.