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President Obama's Deputy Assistant for Energy and Climate Change- A Former EPIB Student

Jan 1, 2012

Before Heather Zichal became deputy assistant for energy and climate change to President Obama she spent her early days with the administration pushing a climate-change bill in Congress that oil and gas companies helped to derail. Even before she worked for the government, Zichal was an EPIB student.
Zichal may have her rural upbringing to thank. She was raised working with her grandfather on a dairy farm in Iowa; through these experiences she claims she gained a strong land ethic. She then was attracted to Rutgers, New Brunswick because the school offered an environmental policy major – now called Environmental Policy, Institutions and Behavior. Zichal, describes herself as an environmentalist through and through. Even as a young student, Zichal was delving into important and current issue of conservation and environmental issues. During her time at Rutgers she co-authored a paper on reforestation and development in Puerto Rico.
Following her time as an EPIB student, she worked with U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone, U.S. Congressman Rush Holt. She has since gone on to work with Senator John Kerry and now the Obama Administration. Zichal has focused on topics such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. oil dependency, and clean energy jobs.
Zichal, picked last month to lead the multiagency task force, is trying to walk a middle ground. The U.S. natural-gas development and other energy debates are emerging as a central topic in the 2012 presidential race. Zichal's years of experience on Capitol Hill will be an invaluable asset as Obama seeks some sort of energy and environment common-ground with Republicans.


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