Heather Zichal

Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Policy (since January 2009)

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Why She Matters

With experience working for several key congressmen, Zichal has served both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue in Congress and the White House. As the deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, she'll served under former Environmental Protection Agency head Carol M. Browner until early 2011 and then moved into Browner's role.

Zichal's years of experience on Capitol Hill will be an invaluable asset as Obama seeks some sort of energy and environment common-ground with Republicans who gained clout on Capitol Hill in the 2010 midterms.

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At a Glance

  • Career History: Policy director for energy, environment, and agriculture for Barack Obama's presidential campaign (July 2008 to November 2008); Legislative director to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) (2006 to 2008); Energy and environment adviser to presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry (2004); Legislative assistant to Sen. John F. Kerry (2002 to 2006); Legislative director to Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) (2001 to 2002); Legislative director to Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.)
  • Birthday: Feb. 8, 1976
  • Hometown: Elkader, Iowa
  • Alma Mater: Rutgers University, environmental policy
  • DC Office: The White House
  • Web site

Path to Power

Zichal was raised in Elkader, Iowa, a rural town in the northeastern part of the state, to parents Dr. Ken and Fran Zichal. She graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey with a degree in environmental policy, during which time she co-authored a paper on reforestation and development in Puerto Rico.

After graduation, Zichal began working with New Jersey's congressional delegation on environmental policy. She worked as the legislative director to Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), and later served in the same capacity for Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.).

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The Issues

In an interview with the AgriTalk radio show in October 2008, Zichal spoke strongly in favor of support for and increased use of ethanol and other biofuels.

She said that the Obama administration would maintain subsidies for ethanol, and praised the renewable-fuel standard (RFS) enacted in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, a controversial measure that requires 36 billion gallons of biofuel to be blended into the fuel stream each year by 2022.

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The Network

Zichal worked closely with former EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner, who was Obama's top energy and climate adviser.

She also worked as the senior environmental adviser for Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) during the 2004 presidential campaign; Kerry is now chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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