Exclusive: Obama energy adviser Patron leaves White House

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 17, 2015 1:55 PM

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top energy adviser to President Barack Obama who specialized on oil policy has left the White House, three sources said on Friday.

    Michelle Billig Patron, who served as special assistant on energy to President Barack Obama and as a senior director at the National Security Council since April 2013, left the White House about two weeks ago, the sources said. She had worked previously at PIRA Energy Group, the Department of Energy and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

It was not clear why Patron left the position. The White House and Patron did not immediately respond to questions about her leaving.

The move came as the Obama administration prepares for some of its most important energy and environmental policy decisions. Those include rules to cut carbon emissions from power plants, global climate talks in Paris later this year that seek to put both rich and poor countries on a path to fight global warming and whether to bow to pressure to ease the 40-year ban on domestic oil exports.

    In addition, many lawmakers in Congress are eager to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to fund highway projects and a new drugs program.

Patron had been a proponent of changing the role of the U.S. SPR from simply being a replacement for lost U.S. oil imports during times of strife in energy-producing regions to a resource to calm global petroleum supply disruptions, even if U.S. imports were not slashed. [ID:http://reut.rs/1KcFVjd]

    Before Patron left, Paul Bodnar returned to the NSC as senior director for energy and climate change. Bodnar, who started his new role in May, was at the NSC in a similar, but less-senior role, for more than a year before leaving in January. He previously served as counselor to U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern at the State Department.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Dan Grebler)