Zichal to leave administration post

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A key architect of President Obama’s sweeping plan to combat climate change is leaving her post at the White House, the administration confirmed today.

Heather Zichal, the deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, will be leaving in the next few weeks. The White House has not announced a replacement, and Zichal has not said what her next move will be.

Zichal has been at the White House since the beginning of Obama’s presidency, first serving under Carol Browner before taking over as the administration’s point person on climate and energy issues. She was closely involved in setting landmark fuel economy standards for vehicles, developing rules to limit mercury and other pollutants from power plants and guiding the response to the BP PLC oil spill.

She also was a key author of Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which was unveiled in June and calls for U.S. EPA and other agencies to use their existing authorities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. EPA last month proposed rules setting strict limits on the amount of carbon dioxide that could be emitted from coal-fired power plants.

“Heather is one of the President’s most trusted policy advisors. The President values her expertise and counsel and is grateful for her service. She has advised President Obama for the past five years, most recently developing our bold climate action plan,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said in a statement.

“Heather will be missed here at the White House, but our work on this important issue will go on,” McDonough continued. “We will continue to make important progress in reducing carbon pollution to help keep our air and water clean and protect our kids, helping communities prepare for a changing climate and leading international efforts to address climate change.”

Daniel Weiss, senior fellow and director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, said Zichal’s successor will have a tough act to follow

“She has been at the hub of every major clean energy and climate decision this administration has made over the past five years,” Weiss said, pointing to her early efforts to secure billions of dollars for clean energy programs in the 2009 economic stimulus law all the way through her recent work on the climate plan rollout.