Obama Commerce Nominee: U.S. Has 'Obligation to Lead' on Climate Change Legislation

By Matt Cover | May 31, 2011 | 5:37 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – John Bryson, President Barack Obama's nominee to be secretary of commerce, said it was “incredibly important” that the United States pass cap and trade legislation and that America needed to be a global leader in combating man-made global warming.

“I regard it as incredibly important that the United States comes forth in this year with federal climate change legislation as a foundation for moving ahead,” Bryson told the U.N. International Energy Conference in late August 2009. “I think we in the U.S. have an obligation to assist in significant ways in providing leadership in this community of nations that you represent and addressing energy and climate change.”


Bryson, in stating “in this year,” was speaking about the U.N. Climate Change Conference scheduled for December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Formerly the CEO of Edison International, Bryson has long been an advocate of some sort of federal plan for regulating greenhouse gasses. While still at Edison, he called for a national cap and trade system.

John Bryson, nominated to be secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department by President Barack Obama on May 31, 2011. (AP Photo)

Under cap and trade, in general, the amount of carbon an industry could emit into the air would be capped. For companies that expect to exceed that cap, they could buy (“trade”) carbon credits to supposedly offset their emissions; the money spent for the credit would be redirected to supposedly greener, less polluting companies.

“A deliberate and coordinated effort is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the entire energy sector,” Bryson said in a July 2004 Edison press release.

“Long term, a reasonable and balanced ‘cap-and-trade’ system for reducing carbon dioxide emissions could be adopted once new carbon- dioxide removal technology has been developed and becomes commercially available.”

Bryson, a co-founder of the liberal environmentalist group Natural Resources Defense Council, was most recently a member of the United Nations’ Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change, a panel of scientific and industry experts tasked with providing advice on combating global warming.

Bryson’s nomination to head Commerce must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.