Obama Chooses Nancy Sutley, Openly-Gay Deputy Mayor of L.A., To Run Environmental Council

Barack Obama has appointed his first high-level openly gay official in the form of Nancy Sutley, who lead his White House Council on Environmental Equality. Ms. Sutley is currently the deputy mayor of Energy and the Environment for Los Angeles. According to the Blade:

A Democratic official says Presidential-elect Barack Obama has selected a deputy mayor of Los Angeles to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

The official said that Mr. Obama’s choice is Nancy Sutley, who supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in her primary campaign for the presidency. The Democratic official with close knowledge of Obama transition operations spoke on grounds of anonymity because the selection has not yet officially been made public.

Her selection may indicate where Obama’s environmental priorities lie. Before serving as the deputy mayor, Ms. Sutley currently was a member of the California State Water Resources Control Board that is responsible for the allocation and adjudication of water rights in the perennially-parched Golden State. Water isn’t just a vital resource in the West, it’s big business and a political hot potato.

Her work on the board will come in handy as water rights management is expected to grow as a source of political controversy as chronic drought and the draining down of natural aquifers are pitting farmers, ranchers and city-dwellers against each other in a struggle to retain control of each drop of water, leaving little room–or interest–for the protection and preservation of natural streams and rivers.

Ms. Sutley served as Califonia Governor Gray Davis’ Energy Advisor and also served as the Deputy Secretary for Policy and Intergovernmental Relations within the California Environmental Protection Agency.