Council on Environmental Quality

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Council on Environmental Quality
Agency overview
Formed 1969
Headquarters 722 Jackson Place, Washington D.C.
Agency executive
Parent agency Executive Office of the President
Child agency
  • Office of the Federal Environmental Executive
Website Council on Environmental Quality
Council on Environmental Quality building on Jackson Place in Washington, D.C.

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is a division of the Executive Office of the President that coordinates federal environmental efforts in the United States and works closely with agencies and other White House offices in the development of environmental and energy policies and initiatives. The most recent CEQ chairman was Nancy Sutley and was appointed by President Barack Obama December 15th 2008 and confirmed by the Senate January 22nd 2009.[1] Sutley announced that she would step down as Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality in February, 2014.[2]


The United States Congress established the CEQ within the Executive Office of the President (Nixon, at that time) as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Additional responsibilities were provided by the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970.

In enacting NEPA, Congress recognized that nearly all federal activities affect the environment in some way and mandated that before Federal agencies make decisions, they must consider the effects of their actions on the quality of the human environment. Under NEPA, CEQ works to balance environmental, economic, and social objectives in pursuit of NEPA's goal of "productive harmony" between humans and the human environment.[3]


The CEQ reports annually to the president on the state of the environment, oversees federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process, and acts as a referee when agencies disagree over the adequacy of such assessments.

NEPA assigns the CEQ the task of ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under the Act. The challenge of harmonizing our economic, environmental and social aspirations has put NEPA and CEQ at the forefront of our nation's efforts to protect the environment.

Through interagency working groups and coordination with other EOP components, CEQ works to advance the president's agenda. It also balances competing positions, and encourages government-wide coordination, bringing federal agencies, state, and local governments, and other stakeholders together on matters relating to the environment, natural resources, and energy.

Key staff[edit]

  • Interim Chair of the Council of Environmental Quality: Michael Boots
    • Deputy Director of the Office of Environmental Quality(General Counsel): Gary Guzy[4]
      • Associate Director for Climate Change: Jason Bordoff[5]


During the George W. Bush Administration, there were concerns over links between CEQ staff members and industry. The organization was described as "a hard-line group of advisers with close links to the U.S. oil industry".[6]

President Bush's CEQ chairman James L. Connaughton was formerly a partner at law firm Sidley Austin LLP,[7] where he lobbied to reduce government regulation on behalf of clients including the Aluminum Company of America and the Chemical Manufacturers Association of America.[8]

One CEQ chief of staff under President Bush, Philip Cooney, was previously a lobbyist employed by the American Petroleum Institute.[9] In June 2005, the New York Times published a memo internal to the CEQ provided by federal whistleblower Rick Piltz. The memo showed Cooney had repeatedly edited government climate reports in order to play down links between emissions and global warming. Cooney, who says he had been planning to resign for two years, resigned two days after the scandal broke "to spend more time with his family".[10] Immediately after resigning, Cooney went to work for ExxonMobil in their public affairs department.[11] In 2005 Piltz created a watchdog organization, Climate Science Watch, a program of the Government Accountability Project.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "President-elect Barack Obama announces key members of energy and environment team" (Press release). Office of the President-Elect. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2009-06-05. 
  2. ^ White House Enviro Council Chairwoman Sutley Stepping Down (National Journal article)
  3. ^ National Environmental Policy Act 42 U.S.C. § 4321.
  4. ^ "Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Announces the Deputy Director of the Office of Environmental Quality" (Press release). Council of Environmental Quality. 2009-09-15. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  5. ^ "Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Announces the Associate Director for Climate Change" (Press release). Council of Environmental Quality. 2009-05-01. Archived from the original on 2009-07-26. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  6. ^ Harrabin, Roger "Links to oil industry," BBC, 5 October 2006
  7. ^ "Connaughton Whitehouse bio,"
  8. ^ Griscom Little, Amanda "Earth Shakers: The Counter-Enviro Power List," Outside Magazine, May 2005
  9. ^ Revkin, Andrew "Lobbyist for API," New York Times; June 10, 2005
  10. ^ Revkin, Andrew "Cooney resignation," New York Times, June 8, 2005
  11. ^ Wilson, Jamie "Cooney move to ExxonMobil," The Guardian, June 16, 2005

External links[edit]