Energy and Climate on the White House Agenda

Source: By JOHN M. BRODER, New York Times • Posted: Monday, March 11, 2013

President Obama hosted a casual off-the-record meeting with a diverse group of energy and climate change experts at the White House on Thursday evening, officials and participants said Friday

The session appeared to mark an early stage of the “national conversation” on how to deal with climate change that Mr. Obama promised to lead shortly after he was re-elected in November.

Among the participants were top oil and gas and utility executives, academic experts on energy, former government officials and a half-dozen White House staff members. Bill Ritter Jr., the former governor of Colorado and an outspoken advocate for clean energy, was there, as was Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a former chairwoman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Cass R. Sunstein, the Harvard Law School professor who served as overseer of federal regulation in Mr. Obama’s first term, was also at the table.

Here is the White House description of the gathering: “During the meeting, the president reiterated his commitment to a cleaner and more secure energy future. The discussion covered a variety of topics including the important role of natural gas in our domestic energy portfolio, new opportunities for renewables like wind, solar and advanced biofuels, the importance of clean energy research and development, as well as the promise and potential of increased energy efficiency in our homes and businesses.”

The White House added that Mr. Obama said he would use his executive branch authority during his second term to advance his goals for clean energy and climate change, repeating a vow from his recent State of the Union address.

The attendees were asked not to discuss the specifics of the conversation.

Officials said that Mr. Obama would visit the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago next Friday to discuss energy

Here is a full list of the participants in Thursday’s meeting, as provided by the White House:

James T. Hackett, executive chairman, Anadarko

Lew Hay, executive chairman, NextEra; chairman, Edison Electric Institute

Walter Isaacson, president and chief executive, Aspen Institute

Shirley Ann Jackson, president, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Eric Lander, professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, PCAST

Alex Laskey, president and founder, Opower

Bill Ritter Jr., director, Center for New Energy Economy, Colorado State University

Debra Reed, chief executive, Sempra

Terry Royer, president and chief executive, Winergy

Jeffrey W. Shaw, chief executive, Southwest Gas

Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president, and chief executive, FedEx

Cass R. Sunstein, professor, Harvard Law School

Susan F. Tierney, managing principal, Analysis Group

Cynthia Warner, president, Sapphire Energy