NRDC Co-founder John Bryson Confirmed as Commerce Secretary

WASHINGTON, DC, October 21, 2011 (ENS) – The U.S. Senate late Thursday confirmed John Bryson to be U.S. Commerce Secretary after Republicans opposed to his environmental record lifted a hold on the vote.

On May 31, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Bryson as Secretary of Commerce to succeed Gary Locke, who has been appointed U.S. Ambassador to China.

Bryson is a former chairman and chief executive of Edison International, a California-based energy company.

But U.S. Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, put a hold on his nomination in July, citing Bryson’s environmental views.

Inhofe labeled Bryson a radical environmentalist because he co-founded the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, and for his past support of cap-and-trade climate legislation.

John Bryson (Photo by Troy Bithell)

In 1970, with other recent graduates of Yale Law School, Bryson helped found and served as legal counsel for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Frances Beinecke, the current NRDC president, said, “John Bryson will make a superb Commerce secretary. He will be good for business and the economy, as well as for our environment. The Senate vote was a win-win for America.”

From 1976 to 1979, Bryson served as chairman of the California State Water Resources Control Board, and from 1979 to 1982, he served as president of the California Public Utilities Commission.

Bryson led Edison International from 1990 until his retirement on July 31, 2008.

Bryson is also a director of the Boeing Company, W.M. Keck Foundation, and the Walt Disney Company, and he is a former director/trustee for three Western Asset Management funds at Legg Mason.

He serves or has served on a variety of business, educational, environmental and other nonprofit boards, including as chairman of the California Business Roundtable, a trustee of Stanford University, a trustee of California Institute of Technology, co-chairman of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and chairman of the Public Policy Institute of California.

Bryson is a former member of the United Nations high-level Energy and Climate Change Advisory Group, founded by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in 2009. The group includes top executives from large energy companies such as Tata (India), Suntech Holdings (China), the New Energy and Technology Development Organization (Japan), and ESKOM Holdings (South Africa).

“For 18 years, John was a visionary leader of Edison International, and we know that he will bring that same leadership to the Department of Commerce,” said Theodore F. Craver Jr., the current CEO and chairman of Edison International. “On behalf of John’s friends and colleagues at Edison International, I congratulate John for receiving this extraordinary recognition.”

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