Utech named Obama's top climate adviser

Longtime Washington insider on environmental issues Dan Utech will become President Obama's top adviser on energy and climate change, a White House official said on Friday.

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Utech, the deputy director for climate at the White House, joined the administration in 2010 and will replace current energy and climate czar Heather Zichal. Zichal's last day is Friday.

"For the last three and a half years, Dan has been a key player in developing and implementing every aspect of the President's clean energy and climate agenda," a White House official said Friday.

Environmental groups praised the long anticipated pick to take over the top climate post.

"Dan Utech is an excellent choice to be the president’s new senior adviser on energy and climate issues," Environmental Defense Action Fund President Elizabeth Thompson said in a statement.

"I know that Dan can play a key role in advising President Obama as he continues to lead on strong, common sense actions to address the threat of climate change."

"We look forward to working with him to advance the President’s Climate Action Plan, including critically important rules to finally limit carbon pollution from new and existing power plants and to reduce harmful methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain," Thompson said.

The Sierra Club called Utech a "seasoned hand in the energy world" and said they expected a smooth transition from Zichal.

"Dan Utech has been engaged in critically important debates on energy and environmental issues for years, bringing with him a unique blend of Hill experience and technical knowledge of the energy industry," Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.

Prior to joining the administration, Utech worked on the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee and spent five years as then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's (D-N.Y) top adviser on energy and environment issues.