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The American Petroleum Institute plans to soon name Mike Sommers, a former high-level Capitol Hill aide, as its next president and CEO, according to multiple industry sources.

Why it matters: API is the largest and most influential lobbying group representing all types of oil and gas companies. Sommers will take over a surprisingly rocky relationship between President Trump and the industry, who have tangled over biofuels, trade restrictions, and how far to roll back regulations.

Gritty details: Sommers, who has led the American Investment Council since February 2016, was previously a top aide to former House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio. Sommers served as his chief of staff, among other roles. Current head of API, Jack Gerard, announced in January he intends to resign this summer after a decade leading the group.

For the record: A spokesman for API said "the successor to Jack Gerard will be announced at the appropriate time once the committee has completed its work." An email and phone message sent to Sommers were not immediately returned.

The intrigue:

  • API's executive committee voted to select Sommers late last week, and an announcement is likely as soon as this week after the board approves him, according to multiple industry officials.
  • The post is one of the most sought-after trade association jobs in Washington. Gerard made more than $6 million in total annual compensation in 2015, according to public tax filings. The group also spent more than $8 million on lobbying last year, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

What we're hearing: Sommers is an experienced Hill operative, though he doesn't have much experience (if any) working in the oil and gas industry.

"What we need is a highly strategic and effective advocate for our industry. Someone who intimately knows all of our Hill allies, from having been in the trenches with them. Someone who is respected for having extraordinary political understanding and abilities and is widely considered to be formidable. Mike is that person."
— Industry official familiar with the development

The other side:

“He doesn’t know the first thing about the industry, that’s kind of the gamble.”
— Another industry official familiar with the news

Go deeper

Updated 10 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

11 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.

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