Monday, December 15, 2008
President Elect Barack Obama has nominated Nancy Sutley to be Chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Ms. Sutley, 46, is currently the Deputy Mayor for Energy and the Environment for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Ms. Sutley has developed wind and solar programs at the Department of Water and Power, an initiative to replace thousands of diesel trucks at the L.A./Long Beach ports with cleaner burning ones and supervised L.A.'s Million Trees planting program. She served at EPA during the Clinton administration. She also served in the California State EPA as an advisor to former Gov. Gray Davis, where she helped to draft a statewide policy on environmental justice. Sutley was raised in Queens, New York and has Argentinian ancestry.
The CEQ coordinates federal environmental efforts and works closely with agencies and other White House offices in the development of environmental policies and initiatives. The Council's Chair is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, serves as the principal environmental policy adviser to the President. In addition, CEQ reports annually to the President on the state of the environment; oversees federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process; and acts as a referee when agencies disagree over the adequacy of such assessments.
Congress established CEQ within the Executive Office of the President as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). In enacting NEPA, Congress recognized that nearly all federal activities affect the environment in some way and mandated that before federal agencies make decisions, they must consider the effects of their actions on the quality of the human environment. NEPA assigns CEQ the task of ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under the Act. The challenge of harmonizing our economic, environmental and social aspirations has put NEPA at the forefront of our nation's efforts to protect the environment. [The Los Angeles Times, The White House]