Feb 24, 2017

EPA chief picking conservative lawyer for top policy job

New EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is picking an ally from his fights against EPA rules to head the agency's Office of Policy, a person familiar with the decision tells Axios.

Who she is: Samantha Dravis comes to EPA after serving in senior roles with the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and its affiliated Rule of Law Defense Fund. Pruitt, who was Oklahoma's attorney general, is a former chairman of both organizations. The groups have been active in the battle against the Obama EPA's Clean Power Plan, a sweeping rule to cut carbon emissions from power plants that's squarely in the crosshairs of Pruitt and the White House.

Why it matters: The choice underscores Pruitt's commitment to bringing an anti-regulatory regime to the agency that expanded mandates on fossil fuel industries under President Obama.

What we're hearing. The choice is raising eyebrows—and concerns—within the agency about her lack of environmental policy experience.

Our thought bubble: Look for Democrats and environmentalists to cast the naming of Dravis as further evidence of close ties between fossil fuel companies and Pruitt. RAGA has "relied heavily on funds from ultraconservative groups and the oil industry," according to The Washington Post. Dravis, an attorney, was previously counsel to Freedom Partners, one of the groups in the Koch network, and served as associate director of the office of political affairs in the George W. Bush White House. She received a law degree from the University of Notre Dame.

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