The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) is pleased to welcome Michael Catanzaro, former special assistant to President Donald Trump on energy issues, and Emily Wimberger, former chief economist for the California Air Resources Board, as the 2019-2020 Visiting Fellows in Policy Practice. Catanzaro and Wimberger will share their perspectives and expertise in a series of events, workshops and public discussions, as well as serve as resources for students and the Institute.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mike and Emily, who have been in the hot seat during crucial energy and environmental policy debates,” says Michael Greenstone, director of EPIC and the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics. “Their unique perspectives and expertise will be invaluable to EPIC and the larger University of Chicago community. We look forward to learning from their experience and insight as EPIC continues to bridge the divide between research and policy around today’s greatest energy and environmental challenges.”

Michael Catanzaro has served in several senior energy and environmental policy positions in the federal government, including the House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the White House. From 2017-2018, Catanzaro served as special assistant to the president for domestic energy and environmental policy at the White House National Economic Council. In that role, he helped craft energy and environmental policy at multiple agencies and advised the president on the administration’s major policy decisions in that space. He previously served on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign as a top adviser on energy and environmental policy. During the George W. Bush Administration, he was associate director for policy in the White House Council on Environmental Quality and associate deputy administrator of the EPA. He previously served as a senior adviser to then-Speaker John Boehner on energy and environmental policy. Now in the private sector, Catanzaro is a partner at CGCN Group, a policy consulting and public affairs firm based in Washington, D.C.

“EPIC and the University of Chicago have a long-time commitment to cutting through partisan divides to bring unbiased, empirical analysis to the forefront of our nation’s energy policy debates,” says Catanzaro. “I’m excited to join their efforts as a visiting fellow and share my insights gained from serving in Congress and the White House in hopes that our collaboration will lead to more informed policies.”

Emily Wimberger served as the chief economist for the California Air Resources Board where she analyzed the economic impact of California’s portfolio of climate change and air quality policies and programs with a focus on carbon markets and transportation. She is now a climate economist at Rhodium Group working on the Energy & Climate team. Wimberger analyzes the economic impact of climate change and policy responses, with an emphasis on the transportation sector. She also provides policy outreach and support to the Climate Impact Lab, focusing on the application of the social cost of carbon.

“Effective policy is supported by the best evidence from science and economics,” Wimberger says. “EPIC and the University of Chicago are at the forefront of a rigorous effort to center research insights in public debates on energy and environmental policy. I am excited and honored to be a Visiting Fellow in Policy Practice this academic year and look forward to participating in these important discussions with other experts, faculty, and students.”

In their role as visiting policy fellows, Catanzaro and Wimberger will lead a series of events centered on the practical realities of the political landscape in energy and environmental policymaking. Cutting-edge research coming out of the University of Chicago will serve as the launching pad to frame these deep-dive conversations, as the researchers, Catanzaro and Wimberger debate ways to translate the research into policy. The first event as part of this series will be announced this winter.

Catanzaro and Wimberger join as EPIC’s Visiting Fellows in Policy Practice program marks its third year. Last year, EPIC welcomed McKie Campbell, former staff director of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Melanie Kenderdine, former director of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Policy and Systems Analysis and Energy Counselor to the Secretary. Campbell and Kenderdine participated in events exploring the role of energy research and development and the efficiency of renewable portfolio standards.

The inaugural fellows were Jeff Holmstead, former Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Air and Radiation and currently a partner at Bracewell, LLP, and Sue Tierney, former Assistant Secretary for Policy at DOE and currently a senior advisor at Analysis Group. Holmstead and Tierney headlined events exploring the pros, cons and lessons learned from hydraulic fracturing and Americans’ attitudes toward energy and climate change policy more broadly.