Engineering Management & Systems Engineering;
School of Engineering & Applied Science

E&EM Graduate Student Serves at Council on Environmental Quality

.E&EM doctoral student Leslie L. Gillespie-Marthaler started a one-to-two year assignment as a Senior Program Manager at the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality just two weeks before the President of the United States signed Executive Order 13514 (Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance) on October 5, 2009. Leslie was handpicked for this assignment in order to provide specialized expertise and leadership needed to develop Federal guidance and lead the Federal implementation of E.O. 13514.

In her new position within the Executive Office of the President, Leslie’s office is located on Jackson Place, which is one of the streets bordering the famous Lafayette Plaza, right across the street from the White House.

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) develops Federal environmental policy and guidance, working closely with Federal agencies and other White House staff within the Executive Office of the President to ensure that policies and guidance are implemented efficiently and effectively throughout the Federal community. CEQ was established within the Executive Office of the President by Congress as part of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and additional responsibilities were provided by the Environmental Quality Improvement Act of 1970.

Through interagency working groups and coordination with other Executive Office of the President components, CEQ works to advance the President’s agenda. It also balances competing positions, and encourages government-wide coordination, bringing federal agencies, state and local governments, and other stakeholders together on matters relating to the environment, natural resources and energy.

Leslie’s first challenge upon arriving at CEQ was to develop guidance and instruction to enable Federal agencies to develop and submit agency-specific Greenhouse Gas (GHG) targets for Scope 1 and 2 by the first stated deadline in E.O. 13514. Leslie and her team developed a tool and provided in-depth assistance to more than 300 Federal employees. The tool developed by Leslie and her team allowed agencies to develop and submit their Scope 1 and 2 targets to CEQ on January 4, 2010. A total of 35 Federal Agencies reported quantitative GHG reduction targets. The Federal aggregate target was reported by CEQ to the President as a 28% absolute reduction target for Scopes 1 and 2 in the year FY2020 relative to a FY2008 baseline. The administration, cabinet members, congressional members, NGOs, and private industry, and press responded with great enthusiasm. The target exceeded everyone’s expectations and they are now looking to the success that will come with further implementation of E.O. 13514.

Leslie’s next challenges will be to develop Federal guidance and a template for Agency Strategic Sustainability Plans required by the E.O. 13514. Leslie and her team will hold several workshops in the near future to help agencies in developing their plans by the June 2, 2010 deadline. Leslie and her team also are responsible for developing guidance, instructions, and tools to assist Federal agencies in developing their Scope 3 GHG reduction targets. Use of a tool and a series of workshops will help agencies to be prepared for submission of their Scope 3 targets on June 2, 2010. In addition, Leslie and her team also are responsible for ensuring the development of Federal Guidance on Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Accounting. She currently co-chairs an interagency working group tasked to complete recommendations on guidance to CEQ and OMB by April 2010. Agencies will complete their first comprehensive GHG inventory on January 5, 2011.

Before joining CEQ, Leslie was the Special Assistant for Sustainability to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health. Her responsibilities included policy and program oversight for all domestic and overseas Army environmental compliance, cultural, conservation, pollution prevention, EMS, NEPA, and Army Compatible Land Use Buffers programs, as well as the Army Campaign Plan for Sustainability and all sustainability planning efforts. Leslie graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1994 and received her Master of Science in Civil Engineering degree from Georgia Tech in 2002.