Workers leave the Departent of Energy in D.C. Photo: Washington Post/Getty

Travis Fisher, a political appointee at the Energy Department who oversaw a high-profile electricity study, is leaving the agency, according to an administration official.

Why it matters: Departures of top advisers always matter. And in this case Fisher’s time at the agency was marked by controversy surrounding Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s divisive proposal to boost economically struggling coal and nuclear power plants.

Drilling down: Fisher oversaw a study Perry requested last year that found market dynamics — namely, cheap natural gas and renewables — were making nuclear power and coal plants less economically viable. That study ended up being much less controversial than some had speculated because it largely reaffirmed what most objective experts say. It therefore contrasted markedly with the subsequent rule Perry requested the independent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issue boosting coal and nuclear power plants. FERC rejected that proposal.

For the record: Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes declined to comment on Fisher’s departure, calling it an internal personnel matter.

The intrigue: Many observers had questioned why the staff report differed so much from what Perry ultimately asked FERC to issue. Fisher’s departure from the department is at least partly due to these differences in policy positions, according to a person familiar with the dynamics. Fisher was formerly at the conservative and free-market group Institute for Energy Research, and before that he spent seven years at FERC itself, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The bigger picture: Fisher’s pending departure is the third in a series among senior energy staff at the Trump administration, though they don't represent the senior most ranks at the Cabinet level. Other recent departures:

  • A White House energy adviser resigned last week over background check issues.
  • The Energy Department’s deputy general counsel left to go to a Texas think tank a couple of weeks ago, according to E&E (paywall).

Go deeper:

  • Fisher was a guest on the Interchange, a popular energy podcast, to talk about his role in the electricity study last summer.
  • The Hunger Games of Electricity, a Harder Line column of mine about the electricity conflict among different energy sources

Go deeper

Trump, Biden strategies revealed in final ad push

Data: Bully Pulpit Interactive; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

President Trump is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into Facebook ads on the Supreme Court and conservative judges in the final stretch of his campaign, while Joe Biden is spending over a million on voter mobilization, according to an analysis by Axios using data from Bully Pulpit Interactive.

The big picture: Trump's Facebook ad messaging has fluctuated dramatically in conjunction with the news cycle throughout his campaign, while Biden's messaging has been much more consistent, focusing primarily on health care and the economy.

How NASA and the Space Force might fare under Biden

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden hasn't gone out of his way to talk about outer space during his presidential campaign. That could be bad news for NASA's exploration ambitions, but good news for the Space Force.

The big picture: NASA faces two threats with any new administration: policy whiplash and budget cuts. In a potential Biden administration, the space agency could get to stay the course on the policy front, while competing with other priorities on the spending side.

57 mins ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: Federal response has only gotten worse

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note ±3.3% margin of error for the total sample size; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Americans believe the federal government's handling of the pandemic has gotten significantly worse over time, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: Every other institution measured in Week 29 of our national poll — from state and local governments to people's own employers and area businesses — won positive marks for improving their responses since those panicked early days in March and April.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!