Trump’s new EPA transition team draws from oil industry groups

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By Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner | WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump’s
administration has drawn heavily from the energy industry lobby
and pro-drilling think tanks to build its landing team for the
Environmental Protection Agency, according to a list of the
newly introduced 10-member team seen by Reuters on Monday.

The email lists at least three former researchers from
think-tanks funded by the billionaire industrialist brothers
Charles and David Koch and at least one former lobbyist for the
mining industry. Several members of the team have also publicly
argued against U.S. efforts to combat climate change, a key
function of the EPA under former President Barack Obama.

The team’s make-up has reinforced expectations that Trump
will follow through on his promise to slash U.S. environmental
regulation as a way to promote drilling and mining.

The team, charged with preparing the agency for new
leadership, replaces the initial EPA transition group picked by
Trump after the November election but before his swearing-in.

Trump’s nominee to run the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General
Scott Pruitt, is awaiting Senate confirmation.

“We are looking forward to working with the career
professionals at the EPA to make this transition work as well as
possible, and to carry out the Agency’s mission to protect
public health and the environment,” according to the email. “While transitions are always hard, straight forward honest
communication combined with respect for each other will make the
process work much better.”

Charles Munoz was named in the email as White House liaison
on the new EPA team. He was a top organizer for Trump in Nevada
during his campaign for the White House and helped set up the
state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a political
advocacy group funded by the Kochs.

Another team member, David Schnare, is a lawyer and
environmental scientist who spent 33 years as a staffer at the
EPA. More recently Schnare was legal counsel at The Energy &
Environment Legal Institute, which has received funding from the
Koch brothers-linked Donors Trust fund. The institute describes
itself as seeking to correct “onerous federal and state
governmental actions that negatively impact energy and the
environment.”

Schnare has also worked at the Center for Environmental
Stewardship at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy,
which has been funded partially by the Charles Koch Foundation.

George Sugiyama, who was part of the initial EPA transition
team, is also listed part of the new team. He was chief counsel
for Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a vocal climate
change doubter. Before working for Inhofe, Sugiyama lobbied on
behalf of the National Mining Association.

David Kreutzer is also staying on from the initial team.
Kreutzer was a senior research fellow at the Heritage
Foundation, a group funded by foundations controlled by Koch
Industries and other energy firms. He has called Obama’s efforts
to combat climate change costly and unfair to certain
industries, and has advocated for more Arctic drilling.

The new EPA team’s communications director is Doug Ericksen,
a current Washington state senator who has served as Trump’s
deputy campaign director for the northwestern state. Ericksen
has a degree in environmental science and serves as chair of the
state senate’s energy and environment committee. He opposes the
climate policies of Washington state’s Democratic Governor Jay
Inslee, including targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Holly Greaves will oversee budget issues on the landing
team. She was a senior audit manager at KPMG, and previously
worked at Ernst & Young in the firm’s advisory services
position.

Other team members included Justin Schwab, the EPA team’s
legal advisor, who used to work at law firm Baker Hostetler.

Washington State Senator Don Benton, a Republican who ran a
county environmental department, was also listed, along with
Patrick Davis, a Republican political consultant, and Layne
Bangerter, an Idaho rancher who worked with Republican U.S.
Senator Mike Crapo on wilderness management bills.



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