As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to American energy, three federal agencies announced today the members of the steering team that will lead efforts to coordinate research addressing the challenges of safely and prudently developing unconventional shale gas and tight oil resources. The formation of the steering team is the first step in the formal cross-government coordination required under President Obama’s Executive Order released last month, and announced in a joint memorandum signed on April 13, 2012 by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U. S. Department of the Interior. 

Domestic natural gas and oil will continue to play a critical role in America’s energy future. Since 2008, domestic oil and gas production has risen every year, while imports have fallen. Unconventional oil and gas production has been a key factor in this emerging trend. As President Obama has made clear, the U.S. must develop all of America’s energy resources, while giving American families and communities confidence that natural and cultural resources, air and water quality, and public health and safety will not be compromised.

The Steering Team is leading a multi-agency collaboration to coordinate research and development to address the highest priority challenges associated with safe and responsible development of domestic unconventional shale gas and tight oil resources. Each agency has a different set of experiences and research competencies relevant to this challenge, and the three agencies coordinate research efforts. The steering team announced today will enhance the on-going cooperative activities and will oversee a multi-year, inter-agency research plan under which the three agencies will cooperate on research topics as appropriate.

As per the memorandum, the Steering Team consists of two members from each of the three agencies, one member focused on policy and one member focused on research and technology. In addition, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy provides a member to serve on the committee. 

The Department of Energy will serve as the lead agency of the Steering Committee for the first year, with DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas Christopher Smith serving as chair. The Steering Team may establish technical subcommittees as appropriate to analyze research gaps, prioritize topics, create a multi-year research plan, and accomplish other tasks as established by the joint memorandum.

Steering team representatives are as follows with biographies below:

Department of Energy

Policy: Christopher Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas

Technical: George Guthrie, Focus Area Leader for Geological and Environmental Sciences at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory

Environmental Protection Agency

Policy: Bob Sussman, Senior Policy Counsel to the Administrator

Technical: Kevin Teichman, Senior Science Advisor

Department of the Interior

Policy: Elizabeth Klein, Associate Deputy Secretary

Technical: Dave Russ, Regional Executive for the Northeast, U. S. Geological Survey

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy:

Kevin Hurst, Assistant Director for Energy Research and Development

Department of Energy

Christopher Smith

Christopher Smith is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas in the Office of Fossil Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy. In this position, Mr. Smith is responsible for domestic and international oil and gas programs, including research and development, policy analysis, and natural gas/ LNG import and export licensing. Prior to his appointment in October of 2009, Mr. Smith served in managerial and analytical positions of increasing responsibility in the private sector. He started his career as an officer in the United States Army. Mr. Smith holds a bachelor's degree in Engineering Management from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Cambridge University.

George Guthrie, Ph.D.

Dr. George Guthrie is the focus area leader for geological and environmental sciences at DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory. He leads NETL’s intramural research activities across a range of fossil-energy related challenges. As technical director for the National Risk Assessment Partnership (NRAP), he leads a multi-national-lab initiative to predict potential risks for engineered-natural systems.  Dr. Guthrie is a mineralogist/geochemist with a research focus in the interactions between minerals and fluids. He received his AB from Harvard University and PhD from Johns Hopkins University and was a postdoctoral fellow and subsequently staff member, deputy group leader, program manager, and program director at Los Alamos National Lab. 

Department of the Interior

Elizabeth Klein

Elizabeth Klein is Associate Deputy Secretary at the Department of the Interior.  In this role, she serves as principal advisor to the Deputy Secretary in implementing the highest priorities of the Department of the Interior, particularly those that encompass multiple DOI bureaus. Klein serves as the Departmental lead on several multi-agency and cross-cutting issues, including unconventional natural gas policy, offshore renewable energy development, and climate change adaptation planning. Klein joined the Department in 2010 and served as Counselor to the Deputy Secretary before assuming the role of Associate Deputy Secretary. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from The George Washington University and a J.D. from American University.

Dave Russ, Ph.D.

Dr. David P. Russ is the Regional Executive for the Northeast in the U.S. Geological Survey, where he leads 15 USGS science centers in the Mid-Atlantic and New England region. Dr. Russ serves as the executive leader of the USGS Chesapeake Bay program, leads USGS participation on the Northeast Regional Ocean Council and the Mid-Atlantic Region Council for the Ocean, and is the national coordinator in the USGS for hydrofracture-related research and studies. Prior to his current assignment Dr. Russ served in technical positions of increasing responsibility in the USGS, to include Deputy Chief of the Office of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Engineering, Assistant Chief Geologist, and Associate Chief Hydrologist. Dr. Russ received B.S. and PhD degrees from Penn State and an M.S. degree from West Virginia University, with specialties in geomorphology and structural geology. 

Environmental Protection Agency

Bob Sussman

Robert M. Sussman is Senior Policy Counsel to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and assists the Administrator with a broad range of policy issues across the agency. During the Clinton Administration, Bob was appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate as EPA Deputy Administrator. Prior to joining the EPA Bob was a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. As an appellate lawyer he has argued cases before the US Supreme Court and presented arguments before several courts of appeal. Bob is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale College and a graduate of Yale Law School, where he was an Editor of the Yale Law Journal. Bob clerked for Judge Walter Stapleton of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kevin Teichman, Ph.D.

Dr. Kevin Teichman is the Senior Science Adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Office of Research Development (ORD). In this capacity, he coordinates ORD’s interagency activities, e.g., devoted to hydraulic fracturing, applications and sensors, and net zero buildings. Prior to assuming his current position, Dr. Teichman was the ORD Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science, where he was responsible for all of ORD’s research efforts and supervised ORD’s six National Program Directors. Dr. Teichman received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley and his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Office of Science and Technology Policy

Kevin Hurst, Ph.D.

Dr. Kevin Hurst is the Assistant Director for Energy R&D at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he works on policy topics related to clean power generation, energy efficiency, and advanced transportation. His recent work has also addressed the environmental, health, and safety aspects of unconventional natural gas development. He began at OSTP in 2001 as an American Association for the Advancement of Science policy fellow. Prior to OSTP, Dr. Hurst worked as a senior engineer for General Motors, where he led development of power converters for hybrid vehicle systems. He previously served as division officer on a U.S. Navy submarine tender. He holds degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgia Tech.