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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.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
33 mins ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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