E&ENews PM reported (“CLIMATE: Key White House aide resigns”) on March 22 that White House Council on Environmental Quality chief of staff Bryan Hannegan has resigned, “ending speculation he would be President Bush’s choice to replace outgoing NOAA Deputy Administrator James Mahoney.”  Hannegan became chief of staff following the resignation in June 2005 of Philip Cooney, who left CEQ for a job at ExxonMobil.  His departure continues what appears to be an exodus, or shake-up, of high-level leadership in the federal climate change science and technology programs.

CLIMATE: Key White House aide resigns

E&ENews PM (copyright 2006, subscription required)
Lauren Morello, E&ENews PM reporter

The article reports:

Hannegan was seen by many as a leading candidate to replace Mahoney, who announced his resignation in late July, citing chronic health problems.  Mahoney’s last day at NOAA is March 29. Among his duties, Mahoney directs the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, which coordinates $2 billion in research efforts across 13 federal agencies.

The uncertainty surrounding NOAA’s deputy administrator slot is the latest in a series of recent personnel shake-ups affecting top government climate posts.

“I think we’re in an unusual situation now with the leadership of the federal climate change program,” said Rick Piltz, director of advocacy group Climate Science Watch and a former senior official in the federal climate program. “This is something we have not seen since the beginning of this program in the late 1980s. There seems to be a hollowing out at the highest levels of leadership.”

A Climate Science Watch summary of the leadership exodus:

James Mahoney, Director of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and chair of the CCSP interagency committee.  Resignation effective at the end of March 2006.  Though Mahoney announced his resignation on July 19, 2005, no replacement has been named.

Bryan Hannegan, Chief of Staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).  Resigned suddenly (and some believe mysteriously) on March 21, 2006.  No replacement has been announced.  Hannegan was the representative of CEQ on the committee that governs the CCSP (the CCSP interagency committee).

Kathie Olsen,  Associate Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), head of the OSTP Science Division, and co-chair of the interagency Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR), which also has oversight responsibility for federal climate and global change research.  Resigned July 2005 to become Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation.  Her position at OSTP is still vacant.

Richard Moss, Executive Director of the CCSP Office, the coordinating office of the Climate Change Science Program.  Ceased working at the CCSP Office at the beginning of March 2006 after six years in his position.  Officially on sabbatical for a year.  An acting director has been named.

David Conover, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Policy, Director of the U.S. Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP).  Resignation announced at the beginning of March 2006.  A replacement has been named. Conover represented the CCTP on the CCSP interagency committee.

Ari Patrinos, Director, Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Science.  Resigned February 8, 2006.  Patrinos, who represented DOE on the CCSP interagency committee, had been involved in federal climate change research management since the 1980s and was the longest serving representative on the CCSP committee.

David Halpern, Senior Policy Analyst, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  Halpern had represented OSTP on the CCSP interagency committee since 2002.  Resigned January 31, 2006.  Replacement has been named.