Utech to become Obama's top climate, energy adviser

WASHINGTON Fri Nov 8, 2013 12:17pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dan Utech, a long-time Washington insider on environmental issues, will become President Barack Obama's top adviser on energy and climate change, a White House official said on Friday, a role that will involve tough decisions on power plants and TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL pipeline.

The move had been widely expected after the Obama administration said earlier this month that Heather Zichal, who served five years in the position, would step down. Her last day is Friday.

Utech will help Obama implement his climate action plan, which involves limiting carbon emissions from power plants and the pipeline project that would link Canada's oil sands with refineries in Texas.

Obama set a June 2014 deadline for the Environmental Protection Agency to propose limits on existing power plants, one of the top U.S. greenhouse gas sources. The rules need to be finalized a year after that.

A decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is expected next year, after the State Department and other agencies weigh in on whether the project is in the national interest. Obama said in August he could not approve the project if it significantly worsened climate change.

Utech, the deputy director for climate at the White House, was also a one-time adviser to former Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Before that he served as an aide in the U.S. Senate for a decade, working on energy and environmental issues.

"Dan Utech is a worthy successor to Heather Zichal," said Daniel Weiss, a senior fellow and director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress. "He brings keen analytical and political skill to the challenge of making President Obama's Climate Action Plan into reality."

Zichal was "a trusted advisor" and "has been a strong and steady voice for policies that reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, protect public health and our environment, and combat the threat of global climate change," Obama said in a statement.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, Roberta Rampton and Patrick Rucker; editing by Jackie Frank)

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Comments (4)
USARealist wrote:
The best thing anyone can do for the USA’s energy policy (and the climate) is re-start the Yucca Mountain project, and green light more Nuke plants. Of course, thanks to Harry Reid and the Nevada, NIMBY’s, that won’t happen.

Nov 08, 2013 1:13pm EST  --  Report as abuse
@USArealist, I am big proponent of Nuclear power, I have a background in Physics so I know the realities of radiation. Unlike the majority of the population that is just scared of radiation. We do need a repository for waste like Yucca, because the current method of storing old fuel rods in holding tanks on site is scary on many levels.

What we really need to do is cut $50-$100 billion a year in defense budget and apply DIRECTLY to fusion research. Or institute a windfall tax on carbon based energy companies, something high like 50% of profit, and DIRECTLY apply these funds to fusion research. I feel that if we had a ‘Manhattan Project’ type of research into sustainable fusion energy development we could have something in 5-10 years. And could be the world leader again. But unfortunately many politicians in DC are not forward thinking.

Nov 08, 2013 1:47pm EST  --  Report as abuse
TheNewWorld wrote:
@USAPragmatist2

I too support nuclear. If we are going to get move away from carbon based fuels, Nulcear is the only technology that will work on a large scale. Solar has a good future but needs some breakthroughs, and it and wind are dependent on weather conditions. People who think solar and wind can supply 100% power are not dealing with a full deck.

Nov 08, 2013 3:09pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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