Obama's Cabinet Picks Signal Climate-Change Focus

The president's energy and environment picks show an emphasis on climate change.

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President Barack Obama's nominees to lead the EPA, Gina McCarthy, and Energy Department, Ernest Moniz, smile as they are presented to the press, March 4, 2013.

President Obama's latest cabinet picks show his determination to bypass Congress in tackling climate change if Republican legislators continue to block his agenda, Obama advisers and environmentalists say.

The Senate will now consider the nominations of Gina McCarthy, a veteran regulator and specialist on clean-air issues, as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Ernest Moniz, a physicist at MIT and advocate of cleaner energy sources, as secretary of the Department of Energy.

Sources close to the Obama administration say these nominations show that the president is intent on following through with his pledge to use executive orders and his unilateral authority to reduce climate change if legislation continues to stall on Capitol Hill.

[READ: Surprise! Obama Pollster Finds Americans Want New Climate Change Laws]

Both McCarthy and Moniz are considered very familiar with the federal bureaucracy and savvy about the potential use of executive power.

At a White House ceremony introducing the pair Monday, Obama said, "They're going to be making sure that we're investing in American energy, that we're doing everything that we can to combat the threat of climate change, that we're going to be creating jobs and economic opportunity in the first place."

[READ: Obama Names Nominees for Two Key Energy Cabinet Posts]

Moniz is a former Under Secretary of Energy in the Clinton administration. McCarthy currently supervises air and radiation programs at EPA.

Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter.