Obama’s enviro and energy teams heavy on vets of 42nd prez’s administration
The Obama-Biden transition announced the names of the Agency Review Team leads, who will be charged with completing “a thorough review of key departments, agencies and commissions of the United States government, as well as the White House, to provide the President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisers with information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration.”
David J. Hayes is charged with overseeing all of the transition work on the EPA, Interior, Energy, and Agriculture. Hayes is a partner at the law firm and lobby shop Latham & Watkins, where he is the “Global Chair” of the Environment, Land & Resources Department. From that post, he lobbied on behalf of Sempra Energy in 2006. Prior to going into the private sector, Hayes served as deputy secretary at Interior during the Clinton years. He is currently the vice chair of the board of American Rivers, a senior fellow at the World Wildlife Fund, and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. He has also served as chairman of the board of the Environmental Law Institute.
Below are the rest of the folks heading up the teams on various environment-related agencies. No surprise: Many of the transition staffers have deep ties to the Clinton administration and the intertwined world of Washington lobbyists and think tanks.
Department of Agriculture
Bart Chilton, who currently serves as commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is one of two people heading the Department of Agriculture review team. He previously served as chief of staff and vice president for government relations at the National Farmers Union, and was a Bush political appointee to the Farm Credit Administration, where he served as an executive assistant to the board. Before that, he was a senior adviser to former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). Chilton was a federally registered lobbyist in 2006 and 2007, lobbying on behalf of the Farmers Educational Cooperative Union.
Carole Jett is the second lead on the ag team. Jett worked on agriculture issues for the Obama campaign in Indiana. Before that she worked in the federal government for 33 years, most recently as the Farm Bill coordinator for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, working mostly on conservation issues. She also recently started a conservation policy consulting group, Blackwood’s Group LLC (which doesn’t appear to have a Web site yet).
Department of Energy
Elgie Holstein is co-chairing the Department of Energy review team. Holstein was a senior energy adviser to the Obama campaign, and prior to that spent a lot of time in the federal government. He was a senior adviser to Commerce Secretary William Daley, the associate environmental director at the Office of Management and Budget, the chief of staff to Energy Secretary Federico Peña, and a special White House assistant for economic policy on the National Economic Council. He also served a short term under Clinton as the assistant secretary of commerce for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Since then he’s served as an adviser at the Progressive Policy Institute and consulted for Resource Consultants Inc.
Elizabeth Montoya, another leader of the DOE review team, is (according to the Obama transition site) a consultant with Sealaska Corporation in Juneau, Alaska (though a visit to the corporation’s Web page reveals not a single reference to her). Before that, she served as a special assistant to the president and associate director of presidential personnel in the White House under Clinton, the deputy chief of staff at the Department of Energy, and associate director of management and administration at the Small Business Administration.
Sue Tierney is the third team leader for DOE. Tierney is the managing principal for Analysis Group, and was recently appointed as director of Evergreen Solar. Under President Clinton, she served as the assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Energy. She was also a public utility commissioner and the secretary of environmental affairs in Massachusetts previously, and is chairman of the board of the Energy Foundation, a board member of Renegy, and a member of the National Commission on Energy Policy.
Environmental Protection Agency
Cecilia V. Estolano is one of three leads heading the EPA review. Estolano is the CEO of Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles. She previously practiced land use and environmental law at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and was a special assistant to the LA city attorney, focusing on land use, zoning, environmental permitting and regulatory issues. From 1993 to 1995, she was a senior policy adviser to the assistant administrator for air and radiation at the EPA, and she was member of the California Coastal Commission from 1999 to 2002.
Lisa Jackson is the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, where she’s overseen the implementation of a landmark climate plan. Gov. Jon Corzine recently tapped Jackson to be his next chief of staff. Previously, she managed the EPA’s regional office in New York for the Superfund program during the Clinton years, and has worked on hazardous waste cleanup, enforcement land use.
Robert Sussman is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he recently authored a transition proposal for the next president on energy and climate policy. Sussman was the deputy administrator of the EPA under Clinton from 1993 to 1994, and was a partner at the law firm Latham & Watkins from 1996 to 2007, where he headed the firm’s environmental practice and also lobbied until 2006.
Federal Regulation and Oversight of Energy (FERC)
Rose McKinney-James is heading the FERC review. She is the managing principal of Energy Works Consulting, and was previously the CEO of the Corporation for Solar Technology and Renewable Resources. She also served as chair of the Nevada Renewable Energy Task Force, and was a commissioner with the Nevada Public Service Commission. She founded the CEO Coalition, is the chair of the board of Nevada Partners and is a board member of the Energy Foundation and MGM Mirage.
Department of Interior
Keith Harper is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and is the partner and chair of the Native American Affairs practice group at Kilpatrick Stockton LLP. He previously worked as a litigator and head of the Washington office of the Native American Rights Fund, and earlier this year was named one of the 50 “Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America” by the National Law Journal.
John Leshy is a professor of law at the University of California. He has served as special counsel to Rep. George Miller, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, headed the Interior transition work for the Clinton-Gore transition team, and worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He served in the Carter administration as associate solicitor for energy and resources, and under Clinton he was the Interior Department’s solicitor general.
Council on Environmental Quality
George Frampton has been a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner since 2001. He was chair of the Council on Environmental Quality from 1998 to 2001, and served as assistant secretary of the Interior from 1993 to 1997. He served as the corporate adviser to Earth Satellite Corporation between those two posts. He was the president of the Wilderness Society from 1986 to 1993, and was the deputy director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Investigation of the Three Mile Island accident.
Thomas Soto co-founded Craton Equity Partners, a clean tech investment fund based in Southern California. Under Clinton he served as an appointee to the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission, which worked on environmental issues resulting from the implementation of NAFTA.
Department of Transportation
Seth Harris is a professor and the director of the Labor & Employment Law Programs at New York Law School and was the chair of Obama campaign’s “Labor, Employment, and Workplace Policy Committee,” as well as a co-chair of its Disability Policy Committee. He was counselor to the Secretary of Labor and Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy under Clinton.
Mortimer Downey was the assistant secretary of the Department of Transportation during the Carter administration, and deputy secretary of DOT under Clinton for all eight years he was in office. He now does transportation consulting and is the chairman of PB Consult. He was also the executive director and CFO of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Transportation Budget Analyst for the House Budget Committee.
Jane Garvey is head of transportation infrastructure investment practice for JP Morgan Chase. Clinton tapped her to lead the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in 1997, and prior to that served as the acting and deputy administrator of the Federal Highway Administration. She is now the executive vice president and chairman of the transportation practice at Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials, and lobbied for them in 2003.
Michael Huerta is the executive VP and group president of ACS Transportation Solutions, a company that consults with governments around the world on transportation technology. He worked in the DOT from 1993 to 1998, as chief of staff to the secretary and as associate deputy secretary. Prior to that he was the executive director of the Port of San Francisco and the commissioner of the City of New York Department of Ports, International Trade and Commerce.
Science and Technology
The team dedicated to Science, Tech, Space and Arts is heavy on experts with experience in the telecommunications and technology fields. But two names with enviro ties show up on the list:
Roderic (“Roddy”) Olvera Young, a senior VP at the communications consulting firm TMG Strategies, is on the NASA review team. Young directed the firm’s Technology and Environment division. He was NASA press secretary during the Clinton years and afterward worked mainly with clients in the software technology space.
Jim Kohlenberger is part of the team reviewing the National Science Foundation. Kohlenberger was a science adviser to President Clinton and Vice President Gore in the 1990s. His post-White House experience has been in the telecommunications space.
The Office of Science and Technology Policy Review team includes Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina (1995, Chemistry), a U.C. San Diego academic who has worked on a number of environmental issues, from combating air pollution and explaining how man-made chemicals threaten the Earth’s ozone layer to outlining sustainable growth strategies.
Also on that team is Thomas Kalil, who currently serves as special assistant to the Chancellor for Science and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley. He’s an adviser to the Clinton Global Initiative and worked on science and technology issues in the Clinton White House.