White House Council on Environmental Quality acting director Mike Boots will leave in March, officials said Tuesday, leaving the president bereft of his top two environmental advisers as he enters his last two years in office.

The decision by Boots, who had served as the Council on Environmental Quality's acting head since February 2014, to return to the private sector comes on the heels of White House senior adviser John Podesta's preparations to leave next month. Podesta has pledged to will help run Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential bid if she seeks to succeed President Obama.

Boots, along with Podesta, has played a key role in helping shape both the administration's climate strategy as well as its work on public lands and oceans protection. Boots is "considering a number of energy- and environment-related options outside the federal government," according to CEQ spokeswoman Taryn Tuss.

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"It is no coincidence that Mike’s leadership of the Council on Environmental Quality has coincided with historic national progress on climate change and conservation," President Obama said in a statement. "His deep policy expertise and his work with mayors, governors and other local leaders have guided my actions to strengthen our nation’s infrastructure and address the threats communities face from climate change. His leadership has helped me fulfill the pledge I made a year ago to protect the pristine and special places Americans care about, including by permanently preserving more than 260 million acres of environmentally and culturally significant lands and waters as national monuments."

It is unclear who will be guiding the White House's environmental work after Podesta and Boots leave beyond Dan Utech, who will remain in his post as special assistant to the president for energy and climate change. The White House has yet to nominate a permanent replacement for Nancy Sutley, who headed CEQ during Obama's first term in office.

Environmental leaders praised Boots Tuesday for his work over the past six years.

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Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, said in an interview he "has helped build an incredible conservation legacy of lands protection that the White House is poised to build upon going forward," by championing the designations of new national monuments.

“Mike has been an incredibly hard-working and effective champion inside the White House," said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, in a statement. "He’s played a very important role in ensuring that the administration uses its executive authority to make major progress on issues like clean air, clean water, climate change, and public lands protection. We are grateful for his leadership, and we wish him well.”

Given the two recent personnel announcements, Williams said, "We're waiting with baited breath" to find out who will be in charge of the White House's environmental decisionmaking process for the next two years.

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