In addition to presumably helping facilitate President Biden’s executive order on rejoining the Paris Climate Accord, the U.S. Department of Energy announced new leadership at the top.
The new president’s arrival also pushed changes at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with commissioner Richard Glick replacing Trump appointee James Danly as chairman. Danly served as chair for only two months after he was appointed to replaced Neil Chatterjee in that role.
Danly stays onboard as a commissioner.
At DOE, David G. Huizenga will serve as Acting Secretary of Energy, succeeding Trump appointee Dan Brouillette. Huizenga was most recently Associate Principal Deputy Administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration and has been a career employee at DOE since 1987. He is known as an expert on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear waste management issues.
President Biden announced he is reentering the U.S. into the global agreement on tackling the climate crisis via changes in energy policy. President Trump rescinded the Obama Administration entry into the Paris agreement in 2017.
“We are going to combat climate change in a way we have not done so far,” Biden said.
Trump’s severing of the Paris accord and rejection of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan proposed emission rules relaxed pressure on states. Utilities, however, are seeking to reduce carbon emissions on their own, with many announced carbon-neutral goals by 2050.
On the DOE appointments, Tarak Shah will serve as Chief of Staff, becoming the first person of color, first Indian-American and first openly LGBTQ person to serve in that position at DOE.
“These talented and diverse public servants will deliver on President Biden’s goal to tackle the climate crisis and build an equitable clean energy future,” said Shah. “Guided by their expertise, breadth of experience, and following the science, these Department of Energy appointees will contribute to creating a clean energy economy that produces millions of good-paying American jobs and safeguards the planet for future generations.”
Kelly Speakes Backman, who has been CEO of the U.S. Energy Storage Association for several years, will move into a DOE role as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.
Speakes-Backman has spent more than 20 years working in energy and environmental issues in the public, NGO and private sectors. In 2019, she was honored by The Cleanie Awards as Woman of the Year.
Speakes-Backman also was a “luminary” speaker at DISTRIBUTECH International in 2020.
The other new DOE senior leader appointees by Biden are as follows:
Shalanda H. Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice
Vanessa Z. Chan, Director, Office of Technology Transitions (Chief Commercialization Officer)
Robert Cowin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement
Tanya Das, Chief of Staff, Office of Science
Christopher Davis, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy
Ali Douraghy, Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary for Science & Energy
Caroline Grey, White House Liaison
Todd Kim, Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Enforcement
Jennifer Jean Kropke, Director of Energy Jobs
Andrew Light, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs
David A. Mayorga, Director of Public Affairs
Shara Mohtadi, Chief of Staff, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
Ali Nouri, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs
Tarak Shah, Chief of Staff
Narayan Subramanian, Legal Advisor, Office of General Counsel
Shuchi Talati, Chief of Staff, Office of Fossil Energy
Jennifer Wilcox, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy
Avi Zevin, Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy