Heather Zichal, the top White House adviser on energy and climate change, is leaving the administration of President Barack Obama after five years.
“Heather will be missed here at the White House, but our work on this important issue will go on,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said in a statement today.
Zichal helped develop the program Obama unveiled in June to tackle climate change, and led a federal task force about the boom in hydraulic fracturing and shale-gas production.
No replacement has been named, and the White House didn’t offer details on Zichal’s next job.
Zichal, 37, joined the administration after advising Obama on agriculture, energy and environmental issues during the 2008 campaign. She told an interviewer in 2012 that as a child she would dream up “new ways to recycle.” She recalled asking her parents to collect waste paper from the clinic where her dad worked as a doctor and her mother as a nurse to make bedding for the animals on her grandfather’s farm.
As an aide to former Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a Democrat, and two New Jersey Democratic congressmen, she worked on legislation to protect natural resources such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In the White House, she has fended off complaints from environmental groups during Obama’s first term that the administration didn’t fight hard enough for climate legislation and about the president’s decision to kill the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to lower harmful ozone levels. This year’s climate plan, which centers on reducing carbon emissions from power plants, won support from environmental groups.
“Throughout her career, and especially during her time with President Obama, Ms. Zichal has worked tirelessly to cut carbon pollution and promote a clean energy future,” Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement. “America is better off today because of her commitment to a cleaner, safer world.”