Architect of Controversial EPA Policies to Return as Chief of Staff
February 14, 2020 - A former top Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adviser who helped craft some of President Trump’s most controversial environmental policies will return to the agency as its chief of staff, according to a Friday report from The Washington Post.
Mandy Gunasekara, who ran the Office of Air and Radiation under former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, played a key role in writing regulations to roll back pollution controls for coal-fired power plants and vehicle emissions, as well as the effort to leave the Paris climate accord.
Since leaving the EPA early last year, she founded Energy 45, a nonprofit “dedicated to informing the public about the environmental and economic gains made under the Trump administration.”
A call to Gunasekara was not immediately returned, and the EPA would not confirm her selection for the role.
“Ryan Jackson is chief of staff at EPA until February 21st, at which time Michael Molina will serve as acting chief of staff,” an agency spokesperson said in an email.
Jackson is leaving the EPA to work at the National Mining Association, which advocates for the coal industry among other clients.
Energy 45’s webpage credits Gunasekara with being “the chief architect of the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord.”
She also helped write the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, a replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Critics said if ACE is upheld, it could hamstring the agency for years, limiting EPA to only narrow pollution regulations for power plants.
Gunasekara, like Jackson and current EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, previously worked for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.).