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If you ask Steve Feldgus what he most looks forward to in returning to the Hill after two years of working in the administration, his answer is straightforward: giving his girlfriend a Capitol tour.
“I started the job at the Department of Interior almost exactly after we started dating, so she’s been putting up with me all this time just waiting for this chance,” he said.
Feldgus, the recent senior adviser for both the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and Bureau of Land Management at the Interior Department, is transitioning back to Capitol Hill to become the chief energy and minerals staffer for House Natural Resources Committee Democrats.
This marks Feldgus’ second stint on Capitol Hill. Previously he had a career in academia. He has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and taught at UW-Madison and Hamilton College before heading to D.C. to focus on policy in 2003.
“I got the congressional fellowship through the American Association for the Advancement of Science, funded by the American Chemical Society,” he said. The fellowship placed him in the office of Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., in 2003, which lead to a job with then-House Democratic Caucus Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., in 2004. When Menendez was appointed to Corzine’s vacated Senate seat in 2005, Feldgus found himself back in the Senate.
After the Democrats took the House majority in 2007, Feldgus moved to the House Natural Resources Committee.
“There’s something about the House that I just gravitate toward. Possibly it’s the smaller personal office sizes that make interoffice interaction even more of a necessity. Or the fact that the House has more receptions — particularly the pie reception.”
When the GOP reclaimed the majority in 2011, Feldgus worked for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee briefly before moving to the executive branch. During his time at the Department of the Interior, Feldgus covered Shell’s activities in the Arctic Ocean, including being a top staffer on the investigative team that produced a 60-day report earlier this year at the request of former Secretary Ken Salazar.
“This included multiple trips to Barrow, which had a high of about minus 24 when I went there in March ... although that really just reminded me of a fairly stiff winter day in Madison ... albeit with more polar bears,” he said.
Feldgus will now return to his love of the House as the lead minority staffer for the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, covering all the issues under the subcommittee’s jurisdiction, including offshore drilling, oil and gas on public lands, renewable energy, mining issues and more.