Thank You Street: Ex-Obama energy aide named to Board of methane giant Cheniere

One more connection between the methane industry and the Obama administration.

Heather Zichal, the former “Obama energy aide” in question, was in fact deputy to Carol Browner, Obama’s energy “czar,” as the position was known at the time. When Browner left, Zichal took over most of her responsibilities, though the “czar” position itself had been reorganized. Among Zichal’s responsibilities:

[Zichal] was the architect of a June 2013 plan to reduce greenhouse gases resulting from the nation’s power plants by having the Environmental Protection Agency issue revised standards for carbon emissions from new and existing plants.

Now she’s been nominated to the Board of methane (fracking) giant Cheniere. Wonder how that happened? Not me. I wonder how we didn’t see it coming.

Steve Horn and the invaluable DeSmogBlog with the details:

Heather Zichal, Former Obama Energy Aide, Named to Board of Fracked Gas Exports Giant Cheniere

Obama's liaison to the methane and fracking industry, Heather Zichal. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Obama’s liaison to the methane and fracking industry, Heather Zichal. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Heather Zichal, former Obama White House Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, may soon walk out of the government-industry revolving door to become a member of the board of directors for fracked gas [methane] exports giant Cheniere, who nominated her to serve on the board.

The announcement, made through Cheniere’s U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Form 8-K and its Schedule 14A, comes just as a major class-action lawsuit was filed against the board of the company by stockholders.

In reaction to the lawsuit, Cheniere has delayed its annual meeting. At that meeting, the company’s stockholders will vote on the Zichal nomination.

What will Zichal earn for the hard work of being on the Board? Before you read on, take your best guess. Done? Now read:

Zichal was nominated to join Cheniere’s audit committee of the board, and will be paid $180,000 per year for the gig if elected.

That’s $180,000 for being on the Board, a part-time job. Welcome to Thank You Street, Ms. Zichal, where the work comes first and the paycheck comes after you leave office. Please read the rest of the article. It’s chock full of good info.

Why we must have fracking

What did Zichal do to earn her new position? She was the liaison between the methane and fracking industry and the Obama administration. But you could have guessed that, right? More from Horn’s article:

Zichal was best known to many as the main mediator between the oil and gas industry and the White House during her time working for the Obama administration.


As Obama’s “climate czar,” Zichal headed up the effort — mandated via an April 13, 2012 Obama Executive Order — to streamline regulatory oversight of the gas industry in the U.S. … [T]he Executive Order signed in the form of a “Friday news dump” created “a high-level, interagency working group that will facilitate…domestic natural gas development” overseen by Zichal.

Obama signed the Executive Order after meeting with Jack Gerard, head of the American Petroleum Institute (API), and other industry leaders. According to EnergyWire, API requested the creation of that working group.

Here’s Zichal talking to the American Petroleum Institute, the industry lobbying group. Note in the introduction to her talk, she’s been working with Obama since he was a senator. Who introduced her? The above-mentioned Jack Gerard:

Did you hear the “fracking can be done right” comment near the middle, and also all the leases being handed out (sorry, sold at near-nothing prices) by the Dept. of Interior?

She’s talking to her future employers. How cozy is this administration with the fossil fuel industry? In Ms. Zichal’s case, $180,000-per-year cozy. Looks like the climate got outbid once more.

Again, there’s a ton in this article, if you have the stomach for it. Thanks, Mr. Horn, for the great research.


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Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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