Obama announces climate hawk McDonough as new chief of staff

Source: John McArdle, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013

Highlighting a slew of personnel changes announced by the White House this afternoon was President Obama’s introduction of his fifth chief of staff during his time in office, Denis McDonough.

McDonough, who moves over from his role as the No. 2 official on the National Security Council, will take over the job as the president’s right hand from Jack Lew, who Obama has tapped to lead the Treasury Department.

“I have been counting on Denis for nearly a decade, since I first came to Washington, when he helped set up my Senate office,” Obama said in introducing McDonough today at a White House news briefing. “He’s been one of my closest and most trusted advisers — on my presidential campaign, on my transition team.”

While he’s better known for his national security credentials, McDonough is also a climate hawk who, during his previous work at the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP), advocated for the United States to step up efforts to address carbon emissions (E&E Daily, Jan. 24). And when then-Sen. Obama was running for president, McDonough was a spokesman for Obama’s climate efforts and helped put together the campaign’s early energy platform.

Before working at CAP, McDonough worked on Capitol Hill as legislative director for then-Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and as foreign policy adviser to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).

Today Obama listed McDonough’s work to fight global warming among the many efforts his new chief of staff has been involved in during his time in Washington, D.C.

“As a veteran of Capitol Hill, where he was mentored by the likes of Lee Hamilton and Tom Daschle, Denis understands the importance of reaching across the aisle to deliver results for the American people — whether it’s on jobs and the economy, health care or education, reducing the deficit or addressing climate change,” Obama said.

And in what may have been another reference to McDonough’s green mentality, Obama also joked that McDonough probably won’t be able to ride his bike to work in his new post.

“As chief of staff, I don’t think that’s allowed,” Obama said.

Other staff changes announced by the White House today:

Rob Nabors, assistant to the president and deputy White House chief of staff for policy

Antony Blinken, assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser

Danielle Gray, assistant to the president and Cabinet secretary

Katy Kale, assistant to the president for management and administration

Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism and deputy national security adviser

Jennifer Palmieri, assistant to the president and communications director

Dan Pfeiffer, assistant to the president and senior adviser

Miguel Rodriguez, assistant to the president and director of legislative affairs

David Simas, assistant to the president and deputy senior adviser for communications and strategy