Christy Goldfuss, a senior National Parks Service official and a close ally of White House senior counselor John Podesta, has moved to the Council on Environmental Quality and will run it for the rest of President Obama’s term, according to individuals familiar with the matter.
Goldfuss — who serves as the Park Service’s deputy director for congressional and external relations — will succeed Mike Boots as acting head of CEQ, though the administration has not made a formal announcement on the matter.
Boots is stepping down in March, and Republican opposition to the president’s environmental policies would make Senate confirmation of any CEQ chair nominee unlikely.
CEQ spokeswoman Taryn Tuss said Goldfuss joined CEQ on Monday as a senior adviser, but had nothing to add on personnel matters.
Podesta, who is leaving the administration this month, had named having a skilled head of CEQ as one of his top priorities when he joined the White House staff a year ago. Goldfuss will join White House senior adviser Brian Deese, who will take over Podesta’s portfolio, and Dan Utech, Obama’s energy and climate change adviser, in helping shape the administration’s environmental agenda for the next two years.
E&E News first reported Goldfuss’s appointment Friday.
Before joining the administration in fall 2013 Goldfuss worked at the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank Podesta founded, where she created and directed its public lands project. In that capacity Goldfuss published a slew of policy papers urging the Obama administration to protect as much public land as it was leasing for oil, gas and mineral extraction.
“This is a very thoughtful leader who understands everything from the national parks to conservation to climate change,” said Carol Browner, a distinguished senior fellow at CAP who served as Obama’s top energy and climate adviser during his first two years in office. “She’ll be perfect in the job.”
Browner, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton, said anyone running CEQ needs to have a wide range of knowledge on environmental policy issues. “Christy has the right breadth of knowledge to hit the ground running,” she added.