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Obama names Calif. businessman Bryson to Commerce post

President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated a businessman with ties to Southern California to lead the Commerce Department.

May 31, 2011 12:30:42 AM PDT
President Barack Obama on Tuesday nominated a businessman with ties to Southern California to lead the Commerce Department.

John Bryson, 67, is the former chairman and CEO of Edison International, a California-based energy company that provides energy for much of Southern California.

He has an extensive background in environmental issues, having co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council and served on a United Nations advisory group on energy and climate change.

Bryson is also on the board of directors of Walt Disney Company. He has been a director of The Boeing Company, and is on the board of overseers of USC's Keck School of Medicine.

If confirmed by the Senate, Bryson would replace outgoing Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Locke was recently named as his next ambassador to China.

Republicans have threated to block any nominee to lead the Commerce Department until the administration submits proposed free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama to Congress for final approval. The first steps in that process are under way, but it is unclear when lawmakers might receive final versions of the trade pacts.

Among Bryson's tasks at the Commerce Department will be leading Obama's efforts to double U.S. exports in the next four years and representing American business interests abroad, particularly in rapidly expanding Asian markets.

Disney is the parent company of ABC7.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.