White House Taps Insider for Acting Enviro Council Head

US President Barack Obama speaks after touring Mooresville Middle School in Mooresville, North Carolina, on June 6, 2013. Obama arrived in North Carolina as part of his Middle Class Jobs & Opportunity Tour. 
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Feb. 6, 2014, 7:52 a.m.

Mike Boots, chief of staff of the White House Coun­cil on En­vir­on­ment­al Qual­ity, will be­come act­ing chair­man this month when cur­rent Chair­wo­man Nancy Sut­ley steps down, the White House an­nounced Thursday.

A CEQ spokes­wo­man strongly praised Boots’s work, but did not say wheth­er he would be form­ally nom­in­ated to lead the coun­cil. He’ll be­come act­ing head on Feb. 18.

CEQ Com­mu­nic­a­tions Dir­ect­or Taryn Tuss said Boots, an ocean-con­ser­va­tion and Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion vet­er­an, has been an “in­teg­ral part” of ma­jor en­vir­on­ment­al de­cisions by the adm­nistra­tion and has been a “key li­ais­on between agen­cies and White House seni­or staff.”

“He helped de­vel­op the Pres­id­ent’s Cli­mate Ac­tion Plan and is a strong force be­hind en­sur­ing agen­cies are on track to im­ple­ment it. He has co­ordin­ated the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s work to es­tab­lish new na­tion­al monu­ments that per­man­ently pro­tect unique Amer­ic­an sites, as well as to re­store the Gulf Coast re­gion’s eco­sys­tem fol­low­ing the Deep­wa­ter Ho­ri­zon oil spill,” Tuss said. Boots has also worked on fed­er­al ocean policy and mak­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment more en­ergy ef­fi­cient, Tuss said.

Early in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion Boots was an as­so­ci­ate dir­ect­or at CEQ, man­aging its port­fo­lio on nat­ur­al-re­source top­ics. In the private sec­tor he was a seni­or of­fi­cial with the ocean-con­ser­va­tion group Sea­Web.

Boots worked at the En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency dur­ing the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion and later was a Wash­ing­ton-based ad­viser to then-Cali­for­nia Gov. Gray Dav­is.

CEQ helps co­ordin­ate and craft fed­er­al green policies and over­sees im­ple­ment­a­tion of the Na­tion­al En­vir­on­ment­al Policy Act, the 1970 law that re­quires agen­cies to ana­lyze how their de­cisions will af­fect the en­vir­on­ment.

The coun­cil had a high pro­file dur­ing the George W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, when then-CEQ Chair­man James Con­naughton was a pub­lic face and point per­son on Bush’s en­vir­on­ment­al policies.

It has had a lower pro­file in the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, and oth­er top aides such as former en­ergy and cli­mate czar Car­ol Brown­er have wiel­ded con­sid­er­able power.

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