Bill Kovacs. Screengrab via YouTube

A longtime top regulatory official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is retiring. Bill Kovacs, stepping down later this month, has been at the Chamber since 1998 and has a broad portfolio that includes the environment, technology and regulatory affairs.

Why it matters: As America's biggest trade group representing business, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce represents the common denominator position on a host of issues, including environment and energy. How the organization focuses on issues and who it hires holds weight across a wide swath of American industry.

In the wake of his retirement, the Chamber is looking to hire someone to work on environmental and sustainability issues, according to a spokeswoman for the Chamber's energy arm. "With his departure, the policy division is reorganizing and this position will work on environment and sustainability issues," said spokesman Matt Letourneau.

One level deeper: Kovacs has shaped the Chamber's response to environmental regulations for the past couple of decades. In 2009, he said the Chamber was seeking what essentially was a trial for climate change science, according to a Los Angeles Times article at the time. "It would be evolution versus creationism," Kovacs said, according to the newspaper. "It would be the science of climate change on trial."

What's next: It's not yet clear who the Chamber will hire to fill the open position, but the organization's position on climate change has apparently shifted over the past decade. Karen Harbert, a top official for the Chamber's energy arm, wrote an op-ed earlier this week opposing President Obama's carbon regulation but acknowledging humans' role in contributing to climate change. Despite some commentary on Twitter, Harbert's comments weren't totally new for the organization. Letourneau said Harbert testified to Congress last year using similar words.

"To be clear, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes that the climate is changing, and that man is contributing to these changes. We also believe that technology and innovation, rather than sweeping federal mandates, offer the best approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change," she said.

Bottom line:

The Chamber talking about climate more openly as a challenge to be addressed is notable, given the president is ignoring the issue altogether. That said, Harbert's op-ed doesn't get into specifics about how technology and innovation can address climate change.

(This story has been corrected, due to an editing error, to change Harbert's first name from Kevin to Karen.)

Go deeper

3 mins ago - Health

Los Angeles and San Diego public schools will be online only this fall

Alhambra Unified School District. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Public schools in Los Angeles and San Diego, the two largest public school districts in California, will not be sending children back to campuses in the fall and will instead administer online classes only due to concerns over the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The two districts, which together enroll about 825,000 students, are the largest in the country thus far to announce that they will not return to in-person learning in the fall, even as the Trump administration aggressively pushes for schools to do so.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 12,984,811 — Total deaths: 570,375 — Total recoveries — 7,154,492Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 3,327,388— Total deaths: 135,379 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. World: WHO head: There will be no return to the "old normal" for the foreseeable future — Hong Kong Disneyland closing due to surge.
  4. States: Cuomo says New York will use formula to determine if reopening schools is safe.
  5. Politics: Mick Mulvaney: "We still have a testing problem in this country."

Cuomo: New York will use formula to determine if it's safe to reopen schools

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that schools will only reopen if they meet scientific criteria that show the coronavirus is under control in their region, including a daily infection rate of below 5% over a 14-day average. "We're not going to use our children as guinea pigs," he added.

The big picture: Cuomo's insistence that New York will rely on data to decide whether to reopen schools comes as President Trump and his administration continue an aggressive push to get kids back in the classroom as part of their efforts to juice the economy.