White House agency is creating new office on climate change

White House Council on Environmental Quality Director Erik Solheim announced Wednesday that his agency will form a new office focused on addressing climate change.

Solheim said the change is “timely,” coming as global leaders continue to grapple with the threat of climate change.

“We are about to begin the fourth year of the Paris Climate Accord and remain focused on its full implementation,” Solheim said. “We need to ensure that climate change is not another poisoned chalice for leadership to share, and we need bold and courageous leaders who can lead this global effort on clean energy, especially as a next step in the battle against poverty.”

The new office will be known as the United States Climate Initiative. It will be headed by Neal Katyal, a Georgetown Law School professor.

Katyal, the special counsel to the U.S. Department of Justice during the Clinton administration, has a reputation as an assertive former executive branch official. He also served as a top deputy to former President Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder.

In a statement, Katyal said he would provide “integrated, rapid and powerful” services in five areas: scientific research; green infrastructure investment; international engagement; clean energy-fueled economic growth and job creation, and environmental protection.

The new office will relocate to the White House, which also provides offices for other key offices in the Council on Environmental Quality.

Solheim said it “is a reflection of the president’s commitment to taking real action to combat climate change.”

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