by Shana Kessler
Widener University Environmental Politics and Policy Student
From Washington DC (that makes it local, right? Come on, all the cool stories were taken, and with the Federal Government in shutdown it has to count!): President Obama and his chief climate advisor Heather Zichal have called it quits, folks. Try as they might, the White House could not convince Zichal to stick around, and they are never ever ever getting back together. Zichal was the White House official to do much of the President’s heavy lifting n climate policy over the last five years, which doesn’t particularly amount to much but that has no real reflection on her. Zichal was instrumental in developing Obama’s climate plan in 2013, and the new federal standards for fuel efficiency in cars. Zichal’s job mixed outreach with environmentalists, industry and lawmakers in Washington. She helped implement policies and oversaw the administration’s response to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Yet the headiness of the role did not come with authority, profile or resources such important work necessitates and deserves. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy said Zichal was extremely influential, and Al Gore even mentioned that it was left to one person to do the work without the authority it back it up.
Is this a nasty break up based on false promises of authority and/or policy? Or is this just the common trend of political figures heading into the private sector? Who’s to blame, Obama or Zichal? One thing is for sure: Obama should be judged by whether he keeps his promises reducing greenhouse gas pollution.