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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

6 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

8 hours ago - World

Scoop: Germany urges Congress not to sanction Putin’s pipeline

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The German government has urged members of Congress not to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, arguing that doing so will "weaken" U.S. credibility and "ultimately damage transatlantic unity," according to documents obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: At a time when roughly 100,000 Russian troops are massing at its border, Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat to its security. The pipeline would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion.

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