The Washington Post

Is Obama’s secretary of energy list shortening?

Solar panels in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Chris Clark/AP)

Steyer, a billionaire and major Democratic donor, is highly regarded by the White House, snagging a coveted spot at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Steyer wrote a multimillion-dollar check and teamed with former secretary of state George Shultz to help defeat a referendum that would have rolled back California’s ambitious renewable energy legislation. And he donated millions to create sustainable energy and a finance center at Stanford University, and $25 million to launch an energy sciences institute at Yale.

He’s been on a fairly long list of folks who’ve been mentioned since the election for the job: former Clinton White House chief of staff and Obama 2008 transition head John Podesta, founder and chairman of the Center for American Progress; former Colorado governor Bill Ritter, who runs the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University; former North Dakota senator Byron Dorgan, who was on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is co-author of Blowout, an energy eco-thriller; Susan Tierney, who was co-head of the 2008 Obama transition team for energy and was assistant secretary of Energy for policy in the Clinton administration; and Steve Westly, a venture capitalist focusing on renewable energy technology firms, former top California state official and major Obama fundraiser.

While Steyer, who’s also been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate, is under consideration, he’s also considered a man of action. That would, of course, be a tough fit in this town, where budget constraints, problems on the Hill, the administration’s own seeming diffidence and getting the smallest thing done can be like a double root canal.

On the other hand, he’s stepping down from his hedge fund job in two weeks, so he’ll be looking for work, trying to feed the family ...

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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