Green Scientist Is Tom Steyer’s New Policy Guru

Lashof: Leading Tom Steyer's think tank.
National Journal
Christopher Snow Hopkins
Add to Briefcase
Christopher Snow Hopkins
April 7, 2014, 5:50 p.m.

In Feb­ru­ary 1979, Her­bert In­hab­er pub­lished an art­icle in Sci­ence magazine ar­guing that sol­ar en­ergy was more dan­ger­ous than nuc­le­ar en­ergy. The so-called In­hab­er Re­port, which came out just a month be­fore the Three Mile Is­land nuc­le­ar ac­ci­dent in Pennsylvania, was roundly de­rided and promp­ted a sav­age re­sponse from John Hold­ren, then a fac­ulty mem­ber at the Uni­versity of Cali­for­nia (Berke­ley).

At Har­vard Uni­versity, a young Dan Lashof was mes­mer­ized by the im­broglio. “Ex­perts at that time were just start­ing to think about how to ad­dress the en­ergy crisis in ways that were sus­tain­able in the long term,” re­membered Lashof, who this month takes over as chief op­er­at­ing of­ficer of San Fran­cisco-based Nex­t­Gen Cli­mate Amer­ica. “That de­bate in the pages of Sci­ence is one of the reas­ons I de­cided to make a ca­reer out of this.”

At Nex­t­Gen Cli­mate Amer­ica, Lashof will for­mu­late policy in keep­ing with founder Tom Stey­er’s mis­sion of spur­ring ac­tion on cli­mate change and de­feat­ing the pro­posed Key­stone XL pipeline. Nex­t­Gen Cli­mate Amer­ica is the equi­val­ent of a mini­ature think tank, de­signed to com­ple­ment the San Fran­cisco bil­lion­aire’s new ad­vocacy group, Nex­t­Gen Cli­mate Ac­tion.

Lashof ar­rives from the Nat­ur­al Re­sources De­fense Coun­cil, where he over­saw the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s cli­mate and clean-air pro­gram. Along with Dav­id Do­ni­ger, who will suc­ceed him at NRDC, Lashof helped de­vise the Sen­ate’s first cap-and-trade bill, which even­tu­ally formed the basis of the 2009 Amer­ic­an Clean En­ergy and Se­cur­ity Act, or Wax­man-Mar­key bill.

In his new role, Lashof will ad­vise states as they set up reg­u­lat­ory mech­an­isms to com­ply with En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency rules for re­du­cing car­bon emis­sions from power plants.

Des­pite his role in de­vel­op­ing cap-and-trade, Lashof is amen­able to al­tern­at­ive re­gimes. “The de­bate about the mech­an­ism is some­what be­side the point,” he said. “At the end of the day, I don’t care how we re­duce car­bon, but we have to do it. The mech­an­ism may vary from state to state.”

Lashof, 54, grew up in Chica­go’s Hyde Park, just a few blocks from Pres­id­ent Obama’s Ken­wood res­id­ence. His fath­er, Richard Lashof, was a math­em­atician at the Uni­versity of Chica­go.

After gradu­at­ing from Har­vard, Lashof spent a year at what is now the Na­tion­al Re­new­able En­ergy Labor­at­ory in Golden, Colo., be­fore earn­ing a doc­tor­ate in en­ergy and re­sources at Berke­ley. He wrote his dis­ser­ta­tion on cli­mate feed­backs.

Be­fore ar­riv­ing at NRDC in 1989, Lashof spent two years work­ing at EPA, where he was one of the first of­fi­cials to fo­cus on cli­mate change. In fall 2011, he was named a lec­turer at the Yale School of Forestry and En­vir­on­ment­al Stud­ies.

Lashof’s new em­ploy­er, Stey­er, made a splash earli­er this year when he an­nounced that he in­ten­ded to pour tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in­to the midterm elec­tions. In 2013, Stey­er’s lar­gesse helped se­cure vic­tor­ies for Sen. Ed­ward Mar­key, D-Mass., and Vir­gin­ia Gov. Terry McAul­iffe.

“This trans­ition al­lows me to bring my back­ground to a new set of play­ers who are in­vest­ing to make the break­throughs that we need,” Lashof said.

Lashof is mar­ried to Di­ane Re­gas, seni­or vice pres­id­ent for pro­grams at the En­vir­on­ment­al De­fense Fund.

What We're Following See More »
REPEATS CONTROVERSIAL CLAIM
Trump: Clinton “Doesn’t Have The Stamina” to be President
1 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

At the end of the debate, moderator Lester Holt asked Donald Trump if he stands by his statement that Hillary Clinton didn't have the look of a president. Trump responded by saying Holt misquoted him, instead saying that Clinton "doesn't have the stamina." Clinton responded by saying that when Trump visits 112 countries as secretary of state, he can talk to her about stamina.

WIDELY DEBUNKED CLAIM
Trump: Clinton Camp Started Birtherism
1 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Donald Trump, when pressed by Lester Holt on why he finally admitted that President Obama was born in America, repeated his widely debunked claim that it was started by Hillary Clinton.

“AFRICAN AMERICANS” ARE “LIVING IN HELL”
Conversation Shifts to Race
1 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Hillary Clinton went point by point on how race can so often determine the treatment that people receive, mentioning recent shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, calling for restored trust between communities and police, and demanding criminal justice reform. Trump responded by calling for law and order and touting his endorsements from police unions. He then said that “African Americans are living in hell,” saying they are just walking down the street and getting “shot ... being decimated by crime."

JUST AS CLINTON INVITES VIEWERS TO VISIT HER SITE
During Debate, Trump Site Appears to Be Down
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Just as Hillary Clinton was inviting debate viewers to visit her site for real-time fact checking, there appeared to be a problem with Donald Trump's own campaign website. For about a 15-minute period, a blank page or an error message appeared when we tried to load the Trump site.

INTERRUPTS CLINTON MULTIPLE TIMES
Trump Comes Out Swinging
2 hours ago
DEBATE UPDATE

Donald Trump has come out in the first segment of this debate raring to go. Trump has interrupted nearly every answer being given by Hillary Clinton, talking over her time and again. Clinton is sticking to her guns, smiling while Trump speaks and then calling on people to go to her website and see the fact checking being done.

×