Feb 14, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Report: Former top EPA official expected to return as chief of staff

The Environmental Protection Agency logo flies at the agency's headquarters in D.C. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Mandy Gunasekara, former deputy assistant administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency's air office, is expected to become the next chief of staff, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters, via Axios' Amy Harder: Gunasekara's return signals that the agency plans to double down on a deeply conservative approach to eschew new regulations of almost any kind, as opposed to embracing more moderate policies that some businesses are calling for.

Flashback: Gunasekara — who was instrumental in crafting President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks on a range of air pollution standards — left the EPA last February to start a new political advocacy group defending those policies.

  • Gunasekara also pushed Trump to exit the Paris climate agreement, which aims to dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades to keep Earth's global temperature from rising 2°C within this century.

What they're saying: EPA spokesperson Michael Abboud told the Post in an email that, “Ryan Jackson is Chief of Staff at EPA until February 21st, at which time Michael Molina will serve as Acting Chief of Staff."

Go deeper: Meet the Obama environmental policies Trump isn’t rolling back

Go deeper

Ex-diplomats sketch out two visions of climate change in 2050

Christiana Figueres at the 2019 Web Summit. Photo: NurPhoto / Contributor

Two architects of the Paris Climate Agreement present a pair of possible scenarios for the global climate in 2050 — one in which we've met the carbon reduction targets laid out in the agreement, and one in which we've failed.

Why it matters: The authors argue that we have a decade left to pick which path the planet will take: catastrophe or hope.

These swing voters don't like Trump’s environmental rollbacks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Swing voters in four battleground states decisively oppose President Trump's sweeping rollbacks of environmental regulations — but it's unlikely to sway their votes.

Why it matters: It's voters living in states like these, including Florida and Pennsylvania, who fill pivotal roles electing America's presidents, so we should listen.

Mulvaney calls out Republican hypocrisy on deficits under Trump

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

In a speech at the Oxford Union on Wednesday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged it's hypocritical of the Republican Party to criticize deficits under the Obama administration and ignore them under President Trump, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The deficit has ballooned under the Trump administration and is expected to surpass $1 trillion in 2020, despite Trump's promise on the 2016 campaign trail to eliminate the national debt in eight years.