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Exclusive: Top EPA official leaves to start new advocacy group

Trump digs coal soon
Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Mandy Gunasekara, who has been instrumental in crafting President Trump’s regulatory rollbacks on a range of air pollution standards, is leaving the Environmental Protection Agency to start a new political advocacy group defending those policies.

Driving the news: Gunasekara, deputy assistant administrator in EPA’s air office, is sending her resignation letter to Trump Friday, according to a copy viewed by Axios. 

What’s next: In her letter to Trump, Gunasekara didn’t get into details about her new organization other than to say it will defend “you and the many energy, regulatory and economic successes of your bold and pragmatic agenda.” It’s expected to be a nonprofit with a c(4) tax status, which means, among other things, that its donors can be anonymous. 

The big picture: Gunasekara, who describes herself in the letter as a conservative Mississippian, is one of several Trump administration officials in the environmental space who used to work for Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.). Inhofe has been one of the most outspoken lawmakers who does not acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity is a main driver of global warming.

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