The American Gas Association's (AGA) Paula Gant has been appointed to join the Office of Fossil Energy at the Department of Energy (DOE), effective Sept. 9.

"The Energy Department is fortunate to have attracted such qualified people with relevant industry and technical experience," said Christopher Smith, acting assistant secretary for fossil fuel. Gant will work directly under Smith, who is, among other things, the Obama administration's point man for permits to export liquefied natural gas.

"We applaud the Energy Sectary's decision...to appoint Dr. Paula Gant as the new U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas. We've worked closely with Gant while she has been with the American Gas Association. She fully understands that we cannot have a secure energy future if we do not protect the environment," said Environmental Defense Fund's Mark Brownstein, chief counsel for the U.S. Climate and Energy Program.

Gant spent seven years working on federal and state regulatory policy for natural gas issues at the AGA, a national trade group representing gas utilities and their customers, mostly as senior vice president for policy and planning. She began her career working for Duke Energy Corp., focusing on electric power generation and gas distribution, gathering and processing in the Americas, Europe and Australia.

Brownstein is looking to Gant to bring the often opposing energy and environmental sides together. "More needs to be done now to reduce the risks associated with oil and natural gas development and to minimize methane emissions resulting from the production, transportation and delivery of new supplies. Gant has exceptional qualifications and experience engaging environmental advocates and industry stakeholders, finding policy solutions that can work for all sides."

 Gant holds a bachelor of arts degree in Economics from McNeese State University and a doctorate in economics from Auburn University. Along with Gant, Julio Friedmann, whose experience at the Lawrence Livermore National Labs is in carbon capture, utilization and sequestration and fossil energy conversion, is also joining the Office of Fossil Energy. He will be deputy assistant secretary for clean coal.