US president-elect Barack Obama selected New Mexico governor Bill Richardson to head the commerce department on 3 December. The appointment highlights the importance of green jobs, energy and climate-change science within the agency.

The commerce department oversees economic policy as well as climate science, satellite operations and ocean fisheries regulation at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with a budget of $3.9-billion for fiscal year 2008. The National Institute of Standards and Technology also comes under the jurisdiction of the department.

Richardson was elected governor in 2002, and has made a broad push for the development of clean energy in New Mexico.