5 Women Who Shape Energy Policy

Gina McCarthy is helping to shape Obama’s environmental legacy while Sen. Lisa Murkowski advocates for ending the decades-old ban on U.S. crude-oil exports.

National Journal
National Journal Staff
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National Journal Staff
July 25, 2014, 1 a.m.

This year, Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Wo­men in Wash­ing­ton list fo­cuses on wo­men who ex­er­cise power­ful in­flu­ence in five policy areas: en­ergy, health care, tech­no­logy, de­fense, and edu­ca­tion.

Gina Mc­Carthy, En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­trat­or

  Gina Mc­Carthy  (Chet Suss­lin)As EPA chief, Mc­Carthy is help­ing to shape Pres­id­ent Obama’s en­vir­on­ment­al leg­acy. She took the agency’s helm dur­ing the pres­id­ent’s second term and is work­ing to im­ple­ment reg­u­la­tions to curb car­bon emis­sions from the na­tion’s power plants — per­haps the most sub­stan­tial ef­fort by any ad­min­is­tra­tion to tackle the is­sue of cli­mate change. Mc­Carthy has served in both Demo­crat­ic and Re­pub­lic­an ad­min­is­tra­tions, and she worked as an en­vir­on­ment­al ad­viser to then-Gov. Mitt Rom­ney in Mas­sachu­setts.


Sally Jew­ell, In­teri­or Sec­ret­ary

Jew­ell was the pres­id­ent and CEO of Re­cre­ation Equip­ment Inc. — and had no pub­lic-ser­vice ex­per­i­ence — when Obama tapped her to head the In­teri­or De­part­ment, which over­sees ap­prox­im­ately 20 per­cent of the na­tion’s lands. Be­fore lead­ing REI, the out­door en­thu­si­ast worked as a com­mer­cial banker, with a fo­cus on en­ergy and nat­ur­al re­sources, as well as at Mo­bil Oil.


Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisi­ana

Landrieu be­came chair­wo­man of the Sen­ate En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee in Feb­ru­ary and has used her in­flu­ence to dic­tate a com­mit­tee agenda that has so far fo­cused heav­ily on the in­terests of Louisi­ana’s oil-and-gas in­dustry. She was in­stru­ment­al in se­cur­ing pas­sage of a bill that re­quires 80 per­cent of the fines col­lec­ted from BP for dam­ages wrought by the Gulf of Mex­ico oil spill to be used for Gulf Coast res­tor­a­tion.


Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska

Sen. Lisa Murkowski  (MAN­DEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Im­ages)The third-term Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­or from Alaska has used her slot as rank­ing mem­ber on the En­ergy and Nat­ur­al Re­sources Com­mit­tee to drive polit­ic­al battles in Wash­ing­ton. A de­fend­er of her home state’s oil-and-gas in­dustry, Murkowski was an early and vo­cal ad­voc­ate of end­ing the dec­ades-old ban on U.S. crude-oil ex­ports. She has also openly chafed at the lim­its of be­ing a minor­ity-party sen­at­or in a grid­locked Con­gress.


Melanie Kenderdine, Coun­selor to the En­ergy Sec­ret­ary

Kenderdine is a key be­hind-the-scenes play­er at the En­ergy De­part­ment. She has the ear of Sec­ret­ary Ern­est Mon­iz at a time when the de­part­ment is grap­pling with policies on nat­ur­al-gas ex­ports and seek­ing to speed up com­ple­tion of en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency stand­ards for ap­pli­ances. When Kenderdine joined DOE in May 2013, it was a re­union of sorts with Mon­iz: She was ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or and as­so­ci­ate dir­ect­or of the MIT En­ergy Ini­ti­at­ive, which Mon­iz led be­fore com­ing to Wash­ing­ton. In ad­di­tion to her role as coun­selor, Kenderdine dir­ects the de­part­ment’s Of­fice of En­ergy Policy and Sys­tems Ana­lys­is.

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