December 3, 2013 at 5:35 pm EDT | by Chris Johnson
Lesbian environmental adviser to depart White House

Nancy Sutley, White House Council on Environmental Quality, Obama Administration, gay news, Washington Blade

Nancy Sutley is set to depart the White House Council on Environmental Quality. (Photo public domain)

A lesbian adviser to President Obama on environmental policy has announced she’ll depart the White House in February, ending the tenure of one the longest-serving openly LGBT members of the Obama administration.

The National Journal first reported on Tuesday that White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley will step down in February. A White House official confirmed her departure to the Washington Blade.

As head of Council for Environmental Quality, Sutley played a major role coordinating environmental policy among federal agencies.

Sutley was one of the very first people — LGBT or otherwise — to serve in the Obama administration. She was nominated to the position on January 20, 2009, and confirmed by the Senate two days later on January 22, 2009.

In a statement, Obama thanked Sutley for her work as part of the Council on Environmental Quality in the past five years, which he said included oversight of new fuel economic standards and new national monuments.

“Under her leadership, Federal agencies are meeting the goals I set for them at the beginning of the administration by using less energy, reducing pollution, and saving taxpayer dollars,” Obama said. “Her efforts have made it clear that a healthy environment and a strong economy aren’t mutually exclusive – they can go hand in hand. I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

According to the Victory Institute’s Appointment Project, at least 281 openly LGBT appointees have been named since the beginning of President Obama’s first term, which is more than all other U.S. presidents combined.

Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, had high praise for Sutley for her work on environmental issues upon news of her departure.

“Nancy Sutley has been at the nexus of key progress on environment protection since 2009,” Beinecke said. “In particular, she was a driving force in the creation and implementation of our National Ocean Policy – an important legacy for President Obama. Nancy’s successor will have big shoes to fill.”

Prior to serving in the Obama administration, Sutley was deputy mayor for energy and environment in Los Angeles. Other jobs Sutley held include energy adviser to former California Gov. Gray Davis and deputy secretary for policy and intergovernmental relations at the California Environmental Protection Agency from 1999 to 2003.

According to the National Journal, Sutley’s next plans aren’t clear. A Council for Environmental Quality aide was quoted as saying she plans to return to Los Angeles before pursuing other opportunities in environmental and energy issues.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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