WASHINGTON Nov 8 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
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