D.C. climate warrior to head Steyer shop in Calif.

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dan Lashof, a veteran of the climate wars in Washington, D.C., for three decades, is moving to California to take the helm of billionaire Keystone XL pipeline foe Tom Steyer’s new advocacy group.
Lashof, who has worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council since 1989, will take over April 1 as CEO of NextGen Climate America, the policy shop affiliated with the more political NextGen Climate Action. He will continue to play an advisory role at NRDC, but Clean Air Act lawyer David Doniger will replace him as head of the group’s climate and clean air program.Before coming to NRDC, Lashof was one of the first U.S. EPA staff members devoted to climate change. He and Doniger later worked on the Senate’s first carbon dioxide cap-and-trade bill in 2003, sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who was then a Democrat and later became an independent.Most recently, Lashof authored NRDC’s much-touted proposal for how EPA could structure its upcoming existing power plant rule for carbon dioxide (E&ENews PM, March 20). His curriculum vitae also says he “[b]uilt consensus within the environmental community to make implementing power plant carbon pollution standards its highest priority.”Lashof, who earned a Ph.D. in energy and natural resources at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a brief interview last night that he was motivated in part by a desire to return to California. But he said he was also intrigued by the idea of working for Steyer.

“He’s going all in to make breakthroughs on climate, so an opportunity to run the startup policy organization working with him was really exciting,” he said. “So, I’m thrilled with it.”

Steyer’s financial and organizational backing helped sway races in 2013, including those of Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).

But Lashof said NextGen Climate America would focus on policy, rather than politics. And its work will go well beyond opposition to KXL, helping to prepare states to implement EPA rules for power plant CO2 and to craft other state policies aimed at reducing emissions. Steyer originally became involved in environmental politics by fighting efforts to roll back California climate policies, Lashof noted.

Lashof leaves NRDC at a time when the group is in transition. Its president, Frances Beinecke, is set to retire at the end of this year (E&E Daily, Nov. 15, 2013). “We are thrilled that in Dan’s new positions, he will continue to build strong public support for protecting the climate, our economy and our future,” she said in a statement.