Heather Zichal, Obama's top energy and climate adviser, is leaving the administration. (AP/Charles Dharapak)

The White House's senior energy and climate adviser Heather Zichal is leaving the White House, despite the president's personal entreaties to stay.

In an effort to keep Zichal on board, according to people who are familiar with the decision but asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of personnel matters, White House officials raised the possibility of her chairing the Council on Environmental Quality in the event that its current chair, Nancy Sutley, would leave.