Energy and climate change legislation is one of the top priorities for the Obama administration and the 111th Congress. This week, in fact, a major energy bill is being marked up in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The legislation is filled with complex language about an array of energy issues. Here are 10 Hill staffers who will play a crucial role in the countrys future energy legislation.
Karen Billups, minority chief counsel, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Birthplace: Tyler, Texas
Education: B.A., history and English, Southern Methodist University; J.D., University of Texas
Karen Billups made the typical move from Hill staffer to lobbyist, and then went the unusual route back to the Congressional payroll, returning to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2003 after lobbying for Entergy for four years.
I love this job, Billups said. I think its the most fun job Ive ever had.
What makes it fun, she added, is that after 20 years of working on energy issues, it still feels fresh.
Its something different every day, she said. Rarely a day goes by that I dont learn something new. The energy issues are so broad, and the technology is constantly changing. Its never boring.
An energy industry consultant who has worked with Billups over the years called the staffer a real legal talent whose conservative views reflect the interests of her boss, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Shes very quiet and doesnt seek personal recognition but is an extraordinarily knowledgeable staffer, the energy consultant said.
Despite her own political stripes, Billups said energy issues can be nonpartisan. Many of these issues are regional in nature, so we have a good relationship working across the aisle, she said.
Billups is eager to meet with outside groups and lobbying interests, but she also includes the professional staff members who focus on the specific issue areas in any meetings.
Billups considers herself a sounding board for the committees staff. Because of my institutional memory, it allows people to bounce ideas off of me, she said.
Greg Dotson, chief counsel, House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Environment
Birthplace: Charleston, S.C.
Education: B.A., Virginia Tech; J.D., University of Oregon
Greg Dotson began working for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) in 1996. Now, he heads the House Energy and Commerce chairmans energy and environment team during a Congressional session that is packed with debate and politicking over a climate change and energy bill.
He has staffed Waxman on matters such as the reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Food Quality Protection Act, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and the pending American Clean Energy and Security Act.
For years, I was able to meet with anyone who requested a meeting, Dotson said of his interactions with private-sector and interest groups. Since Rep. Waxman became chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Ive found my time is much more constrained because weve been so busy. Of course, meeting with stakeholders is still very important.
One energy industry advocate said Dotson keeps his cards close to the vest.