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Steven Chu
Steven Chu
Industry: Environment
Title: Secretary of Energy
Organization: Department of Energy
The Secretary of Energy used to be one of the least influential cabinet positions. Reagan put a dentist in the seat; Clinton the former mayor of Denver. Chu is out to make it into the Secretary of Saving the Planet.

A Nobel Prize-winning physicist and a natural salesman, Chu was able to lure an outsize amount of stimulus funds to his department with the idea of using the money to move the country into a sustainable-energy future. Renewables right now consist of 4% of U.S. energy consumption, Chu wants to get that figure to 8% by 2012.

While Chu is an environmentalist, he's more a pragmatist than anything. He's working to get controversial "clean coal" carbon capture and sequestration technologies in deployment by 2020. And during Chu's watch, the administration pledged $8 billion in conditional loan guarantees for the first new U.S. nuclear power reactor in more than 30 years. That, along with the new authority given by Obama's 2011 budget request means the Department of Energy should be able to support between six and nine new reactors, which would provide enough clean energy to power some 6 million homes.

NEXT: Andy Rubin
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Last updated May 11 2010: 1:57 PM ET
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