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Rep. Garret Graves. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), ranking member on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, is tapping 2 veteran energy and climate officials to lead the GOP's work on the newly established panel, Axios has learned.

Driving the news: George David Banks, President Trump’s former international energy and climate adviser, will be chief strategist for Graves. Martin Hall, most recently a senior official at the trade group Business Roundtable and former executive with utility FirstEnergy Corp., will be staff director.

Graves is expected to announce the news imminently. A request to his office wasn't immediately returned.

The big picture: With control of the House, Democrats are seeking to put climate back on the front burner, with the new select committee expected to play a large role. The Green New Deal, pushed by high-profile Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), is compelling Republicans to acknowledge the issue more while also exposing divisions among Democrats about how aggressive a climate agenda should be.

Background: Banks and Hall both worked on climate and energy issues in the George W. Bush administration.

  • Since resigning from the White House in February 2018 over reports of past marijuana use, Banks has worn a variety of hats, including at the conservative think tank American Council on Capital Formation and a campaign aiming to limit the influence of big investment funds on shareholder activism issues (especially climate change).
  • Hall was most recently a senior vice president at the Business Roundtable, having joined that group in 2017 after nearly 10 years at FirstEnergy.

Between the lines: These appointments suggest a genuine effort by Graves to engage on the issue. Both men acknowledge climate change is an issue, while Banks was among the few administration officials who urged Trump to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement (to no avail).

But, but, but: The select committee is unlikely to be anything more than a messaging machine on both sides because it lacks subpoena or legislative power. Graves' work in this area is also unlikely to influence the broader Republican caucus, which remains mostly dismissive of climate change — at least publicly.

Go deeper: Washington's empty messaging fight over the Green New Deal

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
46 mins ago - Sports

College football gone mad

Former Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly walks in front of his players. Photo: David Madison/Getty Images

In the span of two days, the head coaches of two of the biggest college football programs in America have jumped ship, wooed by even greater challenges — and the almighty dollar.

Driving the news: Lincoln Riley is ditching Oklahoma for USC in a deal reportedly worth $110 million. LSU poached Brian Kelly from Notre Dame with a reported 10-year, $100 million contract.

Biden administration makes first move on data privacy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Biden administration is launching its first big effort on privacy policy by looking at how data privacy issues affect civil rights.

Why it matters: An administration perspective on privacy policy could be key in developing a long-awaited national privacy law by putting the White House stamp on how to regulate privacy.

Axios Investigates

Exclusive: Airbnb hosts Xinjiang rentals on land owned by sanctioned group

Data: Axios research, Airbnb, Australia Strategic Policy Institute's International Cyber Policy Centre; Map: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Airbnb has more than a dozen homes available for rent in China's Xinjiang region on land owned by an organization sanctioned by the U.S. government for complicity in genocide and forced labor, an Axios investigation has found.

Why it matters: The listings expose Airbnb to regulatory risk under U.S. law. They also land yet another American tech company in the crossfire between the U.S. and China.