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The New Kings of the Hill: Nancy Sutley

The New Kings of the Hill: Nancy Sutley


Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality

Coordinating environmental policy is a daunting job in any administration, but add the urgency of building a green energy economy, and it takes on a certain Holy Grail quality. Fortunately, Nancy Sutley, who has been tapped to chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is up to the task.

"Nancy is one of those people who becomes the MVP wherever she goes," says Felicia Marcus of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who worked with Sutley at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration. "She's a calm head in a crisis."

Raised in Queens, N.Y., and with an MA from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Sutley will be charged with advising the president on policy, ensuring the government adheres to National Environmental Policy Act standards, and laying the long-term foundations for a renewable energy economy-a mounting priority of the Obama administration.

"The president clearly realizes how closely linked energy, environment, and climate change are," Sutley says. "The solution of a climate change problem is to look at our energy economy. In the long run, we have a huge opportunity to create new energies and new jobs."

Sutley, 46, has navigated all levels of government, advising California governor Gray Davis on energy, serving on California's Water Resources Control Board, and, as Los Angeles's deputy mayor for energy and environment, directing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's ambitious green initiatives for clean air and renewable energy. Friends and colleagues describe her as an even-keeled, quick study who avoids the spotlight, listens carefully to all stakeholders, and guides parties toward innovative solutions.

"How do we cut across the different agencies and try to get everyone on the same page? That kind of thinking is going to be essential," says Jerilyn Lopez Mendoza, a Los Angeles harbor commissioner who worked with Sutley on green initiatives. "That's the kind of thinking that Nancy brings to the table."

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