Sutley chief of staff to take reins at CEQ

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014

Nancy Sutley’s chief of staff, Mike Boots, will take the helm of the Council on Environmental Quality later this month.

Boots will fill in as acting chief of the White House environmental office Feb. 18 after the CEQ chairwoman leaves the administration, CEQ spokeswoman Taryn Tuss said today.

It’s unclear how long Boots will act as a placeholder in the office, which has a staff of about two dozen people. President Obama still hasn’t announced nominees to replace Sutley or her former deputy, Gary Guzy, after both announced their departures late last year. That search is ongoing, according to the White House.

A number of former government officials with ties to the administration have been rumored to be in the running (Greenwire, Jan. 28). But the appointments could take a while, since the slots of CEQ chairman and deputy are subject to Senate confirmation.

For the time being, Boots will be working with the White House counselor John Podesta and energy and climate adviser Dan Utech to coordinate the administration’s climate change agenda.

Boots was among Sutley’s first staff hires in 2009, when she brought him on as associate director for land and water. He was elevated to chief of staff in early 2011. Prior to landing at the White House, he was the vice president for sustainable markets at SeaWeb, an ocean advocacy group. He also worked in Washington, D.C., as the environmental and natural resources adviser to former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) and as a policy adviser to an EPA regional administrator during the Clinton administration.

Tuss of CEQ said Boots has what it takes to lead the office.

“As CEQ chief of staff, Mike has been an integral part of every major environmental decision of the administration, often serving as a key liaison between agencies and White House senior staff,” she said. “He helped develop the president’s Climate Action Plan and is a strong force behind ensuring agencies are on track to implement it.”

He coordinated the administration’s work to establish new national monuments and restore the Gulf Coast region’s ecosystem following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Tuss said, adding that Boots was central to the development of the first comprehensive National Ocean Policy.

Boots received a master’s degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a bachelor’s in communications from the University of California, Los Angeles.