White House Enviro Council Chairwoman Sutley Stepping Down

Nancy Sutley
National Journal
Ben Geman
See more stories about...
Ben Geman
Dec. 3, 2013, 10:51 a.m.

White House Coun­cil on En­vir­on­ment­al Qual­ity Chair­wo­man Nancy Sut­ley will step down in Feb­ru­ary, mark­ing the al­most com­plete turnover of Pres­id­ent Obama’s top en­vir­on­ment and en­ergy of­fi­cials.

Sut­ley, ap­poin­ted at the out­set of Obama’s pres­id­ency, has kept a lower polit­ic­al pro­file than some oth­er top of­fi­cials. But she played a cru­cial role in sev­er­al ma­jor ad­min­is­tra­tion policies, the White House said.

The White House has not yet named Sut­ley’s re­place­ment.

Obama, in a state­ment, thanked Sut­ley for her five years with the White House, call­ing her a vi­tal part of such policies as the second-term cli­mate agenda he rolled out in June.

“As one of my top ad­visers, Nancy has played a cent­ral role in over­see­ing many of our biggest en­vir­on­ment­al ac­com­plish­ments, in­clud­ing es­tab­lish­ing his­tor­ic new fuel-eco­nomy stand­ards that will save con­sumers money, new na­tion­al monu­ments that per­man­ently pro­tect sites unique to our coun­try’s rich his­tory and nat­ur­al her­it­age, our first com­pre­hens­ive Na­tion­al Ocean Policy, and our Cli­mate Ac­tion Plan that will help leave our chil­dren a safer, health­i­er plan­et,” he said.

Sut­ley is the latest long-serving en­vir­on­ment­al of­fi­cial to leave the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. Obama’s first-term En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency ad­min­is­trat­or, Lisa Jack­son, left early this year, and the second term has also brought new sec­ret­ar­ies of En­ergy and the In­teri­or.

More re­cently, top White House cli­mate and en­ergy aide Heath­er Zichal left in Novem­ber.

The Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted in Oc­to­ber that White House of­fi­cials, in an ef­fort to get Zichal to stick around, raised the pos­sib­il­ity of her tak­ing the CEQ job, but she de­clined.

Sut­ley’s next moves aren’t yet clear.

“She’s plan­ning to re­turn to her home in Los Angeles for a well-earned break be­fore pur­su­ing oth­er op­por­tun­it­ies in the en­vir­on­ment and en­ergy arena,” a CEQ aide said.

Sut­ley was deputy may­or for en­ergy and en­vir­on­ment in Los Angeles when Obama tapped her to run CEQ, an agency that plays a ma­jor role co­ordin­at­ing en­vir­on­ment­al policy among fed­er­al agen­cies.

Earli­er in her ca­reer, Sut­ley held jobs in­clud­ing en­ergy ad­viser to former Cali­for­nia Gov. Gray Dav­is and deputy sec­ret­ary for policy and in­ter­gov­ern­ment­al re­la­tions at the Cali­for­nia EPA from 1999-2003, ac­cord­ing to a White House bio.

She worked for EPA in the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion as a seni­or policy ad­viser to the re­gion­al ad­min­is­trat­or in San Fran­cisco and spe­cial as­sist­ant to then-EPA Ad­min­is­trat­or Car­ol Brown­er. Brown­er and Sut­ley would later re­unite in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, where Brown­er served as Obama’s en­ergy and cli­mate czar be­fore de­part­ing in 2011.

Sut­ley has not had the pro­file of James Con­naughton, her George W. Bush-era pre­de­cessor at CEQ, who was the pub­lic point per­son for sev­er­al Bush ini­ti­at­ives.

In an in­ter­view, Brown­er called Sut­ley a team play­er and said she had a ma­jor hand in a num­ber of ini­ti­at­ives, in­clud­ing Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ef­forts to make the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment it­self more en­vir­on­ment­ally sus­tain­able.

Obama is­sued an ex­ec­ut­ive or­der in 2009 re­quir­ing re­duc­tions in fed­er­al green­house-gas emis­sions, im­prove­ment in waste man­age­ment and re­cyc­ling, and oth­er steps to get green­er. The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment has cut its green­house-gas emis­sions by more than 15 per­cent with these ini­ti­at­ives, the White House said.

Sut­ley played a vi­tal role in put­ting the plans in­to prac­tice, Brown­er said. “She really was the force be­hind … that and de­serves a huge amount of cred­it,” said Brown­er, who also ap­plauded Sut­ley’s work on na­tion­al-monu­ment des­ig­na­tions.

Obama also praised Sut­ley’s ef­forts to curb the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment’s en­vir­on­ment­al foot­print.

“Un­der her lead­er­ship, fed­er­al agen­cies are meet­ing the goals I set for them at the be­gin­ning of the ad­min­is­tra­tion by us­ing less en­ergy, re­du­cing pol­lu­tion, and sav­ing tax­pay­er dol­lars. Her ef­forts have made it clear that a healthy en­vir­on­ment and a strong eco­nomy aren’t mu­tu­ally ex­clus­ive — they can go hand in hand,” he said.

Ken Salaz­ar, Obama’s first-term In­teri­or Sec­ret­ary, cred­ited Sut­ley with ad­van­cing con­ser­va­tion through work on na­tion­al-monu­ment des­ig­na­tions and the mul­tia­gency “Amer­ica’s Great Out­doors” ini­ti­at­ive cre­ated in 2010.

“When his­tor­i­ans look back at her time at CEQ, they will be able to say she was very ef­fect­ive in in­form­ing and ad­van­cing the pres­id­ent’s con­ser­va­tion agenda,” he said in an in­ter­view.

“Nancy’s per­son­al­ity is that she is a work­horse, not a show horse, and she labored in the de­tail of things to get things done,” Salaz­ar said.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
These (Supposed) Iowa and NH Escorts Tell All
6 hours ago
NATIONAL JOURNAL AFTER DARK

Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:

  • Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
  • Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
  • They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
  • One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
Source:
STATE VS. FEDERAL
Restoring Some Sanity to Encryption
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Hillary Is Running Against the Bill of 1992
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Trevor Noah Needs to Find His Voice. And Fast.
7 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”

Source:
×