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
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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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