WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top White House official on domestic energy issues, including biofuels quotas and upending Obama-era rules on car and power plant emissions, is stepping down to return to the lobbying practice he left last year, the firm said on Tuesday.
Mike Catanzaro became special assistant to President Donald Trump for domestic energy and environmental policy in February last year, a role within the National Economic Council.
Catanzaro previously served in the Environmental Protection Agency and in the White House under President George W. Bush. Under Trump, he worked at the White House with George David Banks, who handled international energy and environmental issues such as the president’s plan to leave the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Catanzaro joins other officials on economics who have recently left the White House. Banks resigned in February because of difficulties getting security clearance. Their boss, Gary Cohn, who was Trump’s top economic adviser, resigned last month.
Next week Catanzaro will return to CGCN Group, an advocacy and public relations company, where he worked for energy clients who wanted Washington to lift a 40-year-old ban on U.S. oil exports as output exploded, thanks to shale drilling. Congress killed the ban in late 2015 after President Barack Obama’s administration had allowed exports of some light oil.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Catanzaro’s move, which was first reported by E&E News.
CGCN managing partner Steve Clark said in a statement that Catanzaro’s experience in the White House “will be an invaluable resource for current and future clients and we will make every effort to ensure his work complies with all relevant ethics guidelines.”
Days after taking office in 2017, Trump, who promised to “drain the swamp” of Washington, put restrictions on the types of lobbying that White House aides can accept after they leave government. Trump signed an executive order that said his appointees would refrain from lobbying their own agency for five years after leaving, although there is no criminal penalty for doing so.
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