Zichal’s Replacement Has “˜A Big Job Ahead’

None

Deputy assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Heather Zichal will soon step down.
National Journal
Coral Davenport
Oct. 7, 2013, 12:35 p.m.

With the de­par­ture of Heath­er Zichal, his seni­or en­vir­on­ment­al ad­viser, Pres­id­ent Obama loses a chief ar­chi­tect of his cli­mate-change ac­tion plan, a sweep­ing and am­bi­tious agenda on which he hopes to build part of his leg­acy.

Zichal, an en­ergy-policy ex­pert with deep roots in the en­vir­on­ment­al-ad­vocacy com­munity, has ad­vised Obama on en­ergy and cli­mate is­sues since his first pres­id­en­tial cam­paign.

“Heath­er had her fin­ger­prints on every cli­mate and clean-en­ergy suc­cess of this ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Daniel J. Weiss, a seni­or fel­low and dir­ect­or of cli­mate strategy at the Cen­ter for Amer­ic­an Pro­gress, a lib­er­al think tank with close ties to the White House.

People close to Zichal said that she has been wait­ing for the cli­mate-ac­tion plan to come to­geth­er be­fore leav­ing.

“Heath­er’s re­place­ment is go­ing to have a big job ahead of them — she wrote the blue­print of the cli­mate-ac­tion plan, and they’ll have to see it through,” Weiss said.

People close to the White House say they ex­pect Obama to name Zichal’s suc­cessor from with­in the White House. The name most com­monly men­tioned is her deputy, Dan Utech, who has worked on cli­mate and clean-en­ergy policy in the En­ergy De­part­ment and the Sen­ate.

Dur­ing Obama’s trans­ition from the 2008 cam­paign to the White House, Zichal helped craft the en­ergy and cli­mate por­tions of the pres­id­ent’s eco­nom­ic-stim­u­lus law, which in­jec­ted $70 bil­lion in fresh spend­ing on clean-en­ergy pro­jects in­to the eco­nomy. She rep­res­en­ted the ad­min­is­tra­tion in Louisi­ana dur­ing the 2010 gulf oil spill, and helped craft a deal with U.S. auto com­pan­ies to raise vehicle fuel-eco­nomy stand­ards.

When Obama first took of­fice, Zichal re­por­ted dir­ectly to Obama’s en­ergy and cli­mate-change “czar,” former Clin­ton En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency chief Car­ol Brown­er. Brown­er was ex­pec­ted to help move a sweep­ing cli­mate-change bill through Con­gress, but after the ef­fort failed, she stepped down in 2011. The move was widely per­ceived as a sig­nal that Obama was re­leg­at­ing en­ergy and cli­mate is­sues to the back burn­er.

Zichal then re­placed Brown­er as the pres­id­ent’s top en­ergy aide, and struggled for years to bring cli­mate is­sues back to the cen­ter of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s agenda. It was an up­hill battle. Dur­ing Obama’s reelec­tion cam­paign, his polit­ic­al ad­visers Dav­id Axel­rod, Jim Mess­ina, Dav­id Plouffe, and Dan Pfeif­fer were united against her in the be­lief that cli­mate change was a los­ing is­sue, polit­ic­ally.

But after Obama won reelec­tion, Zichal wrote the blue­print for his ag­gress­ive cli­mate-change agenda, un­veiled in a one-hour speech in June that was hailed by some his­tor­i­ans as the most sig­ni­fic­ant ad­dress ever giv­en by any pres­id­ent on an en­vir­on­ment­al is­sue.

Since the speech, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has star­ted rolling out the heart of the plan: a series of con­tro­ver­sial EPA reg­u­la­tions that could freeze con­struc­tion of coal-fired power plants and even­tu­ally lead to the shut­down of ex­ist­ing coal-fired power plants, an agenda Re­pub­lic­ans have dubbed Obama’s “war on coal.” The plan also calls, in lieu of con­gres­sion­al ac­tion on cli­mate change, for all the Cab­in­et agen­cies to use their ex­ec­ut­ive-level au­thor­ity to push through pieces of the cli­mate and clean-en­ergy agenda. It has been at­tacked by Re­pub­lic­ans as a reg­u­lat­ory over­reach on the part of the pres­id­ent.

Zichal took heat from many in the en­vir­on­ment­al com­munity when it ap­peared, dur­ing the 2012 reelec­tion cam­paign, that Obama had aban­doned the is­sue of cli­mate change. But this year, she’s won praise as he now ap­pears to have made it a fo­cus of his second term.

“She stead­ied the ship and al­lowed the pres­id­ent to re­launch an in­cred­ibly am­bi­tious and im­port­ant cli­mate-change agenda,” said Paul Bled­soe, seni­or fel­low on en­ergy and cli­mate at the Ger­man Mar­shall Fund, and former Clin­ton White House cli­mate ad­viser. “She de­serves a lot of cred­it for shep­herd­ing that after the de­bacle of 2009-2010.”

What We're Following See More »
TAKING A LONG VIEW TO SOUTHERN STATES
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Source:
‘PITTING PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER’
Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Source:
THE TIME IS NOW, TED
Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Source:
CHRISTIE, BUSH TRYING TO TAKE HIM DOWN
Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Source:
7 REPUBLICANS ON STAGE
Carly Fiorina Will Not Be Allowed to Debate on Saturday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

ABC News has announced the criteria for Saturday’s Republican debate, and that means Carly Fiorina won’t be a part of it. The network is demanding candidates have “a top-three finish in Iowa, a top-six standing in an average of recent New Hampshire polls or a top-six placement in national polls in order for candidates to qualify.” And there will be no “happy hour” undercard debate this time. “So that means no Fiorina vs. Jim Gilmore showdown earlier in the evening for the most ardent of campaign 2016 junkies.

Source:
×