Kerry's environment aides start with family

John Kerry speaks to members of media from South rim of Grand Canyon in Arizona
When he visited the Grand Canyon last August to talk about environmental priorities, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry was joined by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, at right, as well as daughter Vanessa Kerry and stepson Andre Heinz.Mike Segar / Reuters file
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When it comes to environmental advisers, Democrat John Kerry draws a tight inner circle. He's at the center of course, and closest to him are family: his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and her son Andre Heinz.

Kerry has also called on advice from some who served during the Clinton administration as well as Democratic lawmakers and congressional staffers.

A bit removed, at least so far, are the activists who run environmental groups. Part of that could be a reluctance to be portrayed by Republicans as too green. And then there's the fact that environmental issues are simply less visible given other concerns.

"Everything is overshadowed by security and war," says Bruce Hamilton, conservation director for the Sierra Club.

Family ties
Within the Kerry family, however, there's no doubt that environmental issues are food for thought. In fact, Kerry's campaign Web site notes that it was "their mutual interest in environmental issues brought Teresa and John together" after her first husband, Republican Sen. John Heinz, died in a 1991 plane crash.

"She was first introduced to John Kerry by Senator Heinz at an Earth Day rally in 1990," according to the Kerry campaign. "In 1992, she met Kerry again at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro when President George H. W. Bush appointed her as part of a State Department delegation representing U.S. non-governmental organizations."

The death of Sen. Heinz, heir to the Heinz food fortune, left her in charge of several charities dealing with environmental and other issues. Her work since then includes endowing two environmental chairs at Harvard, creating The Heinz Center, a Washington, D.C., environmental policy group, and funding scholarships in environmental studies. She also serves on the boards of Environmental Defense and the Alliance for Healthy Homes.

Andre Heinz, for his part, was raised Republican and began to focus on environmental issues while in college. On the campaign trail, he often talks to groups, particularly college-age voters, about Kerry's environmental proposals.

In an interview with Grist magazine, he discussed his philosophy and his work in Europe for The Natural Step, a non-profit that advises government agencies and companies on how to make their business models sustainable.

Others with input
At least publicly, Kerry doesn't have an environmental team with structured tiers, but here's an alphabetical list of some names that have shown up on the campaign radar:

A key player in Environment2004, a group that funds anti-Bush ads, he has campaigned with Kerry and was interior secretary during the Clinton administration. Prior to that he was Arizona governor and earlier Arizona's attorney general. A lawyer, he is back in private practice with the national firm Latham & Watkins.

Carol Browner: Head of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton years, she too is instrumental in Environment2004. She also is an attorney.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner addresses the Great Lakes Water Quality Forum Friday, Sept. 24, 1999, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)Morry Gash / AP

Brian Burke: In charge of policy outreach for the Kerry campaign, he had helped Wesley Clark when the retired general was running for the Democratic nomination. During the Clinton years, he worked in the Energy Department, the USDA, the White House as a policy analyst and the Justice Department as an environmental attorney.

Deb Callahan: Head of the League of Conservation Voters, she was invited to speak at the Democratic National Convention. The group has endorsed Kerry, who always scores extremely high in the group's annual congressional rankings on environmental issues.

Dan Carol: He is a founding partner of Carol/Trevelyan Strategy Group, a political and Internet consulting firm. Carol is also board chairman of Common Assets, a nonprofit whose mission is "to defend the (public) commons from misuse, privatization and destruction." Both groups were behind the creation of the Apollo Alliance, which Kerry has tied into his $20 billion renewable energy plan. The alliance's name invokes the idea of an energy race akin to the 1960s space race. Before starting CTSG, Carol worked for the Democratic National Committee, first as research director in 1992. Prior to that he was a budget analyst at the Congressional Budget Office.

David Hayes: A Clinton-era deputy interior secretary, he has spoken on the campaign trail about Kerry's energy plan. Prior to government, he was a partner in Latham & Watkins, chairing its environmental practice. In 1992-93, he was on the Clinton/Gore transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Chad Lennox: The Kerry campaign's coordinator of outreach to environmental groups, he previously was head of the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation in Columbia, S.C.

The Massachusetts Democrat chairs the party's state committee to elect Kerry. He's said to offer advice on energy issues, and is an outspoken congressional critic of nuclear power.

Beth Viola: She has touted Kerry's energy plan in press interviews where she's described as an environmental strategist to the campaign. During the Clinton years, she was a senior advisor to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, specializing in climate change, natural resources and smart growth. She later served as an environmental adviser to Al Gore during his presidential run. Prior to government, she worked in government affairs for Matsushita Electric Corporation of America.

She has raised eyebrows in the environmental community due to the fact that she's also a lobbyist whose clients have included Murphy Oil, FMC Technologies and the American Chemistry Council.

Heather Zichal: A former staffer in Kerry's Senate office, she coordinates environmental policy issues for the campaign.

Different from Gore run
Environmental groups, for their part, have seen a different campaign from that undertaken by Gore, the previous Democratic Party candidate.

Gore's campaign "was a very, very different situation," says Hamilton, the Sierra Club's conservation director.

Although some environmentalists went to work for the Gore campaign — Sierra Club activists among them — Gore never did emphasize environmental issues, Hamilton says.

Kerry, on the other hand, has them "built into" his campaign, Hamilton says.

But that hasn't carried over to activists getting access to his inner circle. As a result, the heads of the major environmental groups and their legislative directors have been strategizing.

"They have some working groups now to talk about putting together an effort to try to influence a Kerry administration," Hamilton adds.

"There's major environmental input in both campaigns," he says of Gore and Kerry, "it just went along different avenues."