Former White House Environmental Aide Helping Companies Cope With Climate

Gary Guzy, former deputy director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, has joined Covington & Burling. January 2014
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Jan. 8, 2014, 4 p.m.

When Gary Guzy an­nounced last month that he was step­ping down as deputy dir­ect­or of the White House Coun­cil on En­vir­on­ment­al Qual­ity (CEQ), most polit­ic­al ob­serv­ers as­sumed that the move was part of a staff re­shuff­ling.

But Guzy, who has joined Cov­ing­ton & Burl­ing, of­fers an­oth­er reas­on for his de­par­ture: the com­mit­ment of private com­pan­ies to cli­mate change, sus­tain­ab­il­ity, and clean-en­ergy trans­form­a­tion.

“Com­pan­ies in­creas­ingly take it as a giv­en that [these is­sues] will be part of their fu­ture,” he said. “Com­pan­ies are in­creas­ingly look­ing to di­ver­si­fy their fuel sources and get in­ef­fi­cien­cies out of the sys­tem.”¦ Many of them are in the midst of this trans­form­a­tion.”

The com­pan­ies Guzy has in mind are not just those that spe­cial­ize in clean-en­ergy tech­no­logy. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased last month by CDP, a non­profit that serves as a clear­ing­house for en­vir­on­ment­al data, all five ma­jor oil com­pan­ies have in­cor­por­ated a price on car­bon in­to their long-term busi­ness strategies.

While Guzy did not spe­cify which com­pan­ies he would ad­vise at Cov­ing­ton & Burl­ing, he did say that “en­tit­ies in this space don’t just want to un­der­stand new [en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tions]; they want to get ahead of them and make pos­it­ive con­tri­bu­tions.”

At Cov­ing­ton & Burl­ing, Guzy will work closely with E. Don­ald El­li­ott, who served as gen­er­al coun­sel to the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency un­der Pres­id­ent George H.W. Bush.

For the 55-year-old Guzy, who sees the po­lar vor­tex as an op­por­tun­ity to go cross-coun­try ski­ing, his in­terest in en­vir­on­ment­al policy stems from his love of the out­doors. “Our nat­ur­al her­it­age is a huge part of what defines this coun­try,” he said. “En­vir­on­ment­al health and well-be­ing is a fun­da­ment­al choice this coun­try has made.”

A nat­ive of Ne­wark, N.J., Guzy holds bach­el­or’s and law de­grees from Cor­nell Uni­versity. Dur­ing the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion, he served as gen­er­al coun­sel to the EPA and as a seni­or at­tor­ney in the Justice De­part­ment’s en­vir­on­ment di­vi­sion. Be­fore join­ing CEQ, Guzy was gen­er­al coun­sel of APX, which provides re­gistry-track­ing sys­tems for car­bon and re­new­able-en­ergy cred­its.

At the White House, Guzy was in­stru­ment­al in craft­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s new ef­fi­ciency stand­ards, which re­quire a fleet-wide av­er­age of about 50 miles per gal­lon for cars and light trucks by 2025.

Guzy lives in Wash­ing­ton with his wife, a fed­er­al pro­sec­utor. They have two col­lege-age chil­dren.

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