President Trump’s top adviser for energy and environment policy is stepping down.
Michael Catanzaro, who has headed domestic energy and environment issues at the White House’s National Economic Council (NEC), plans to leave next week and return to CGCN Group, the law and lobbying firm where he previously worked.
The White House confirmed the move Tuesday, which was first reported by Greenwire. Catanzaro has worked at the White House since February 2017.
“In just a short time on the job, I realized Mike was an integral member of the NEC team and played an important role in crafting domestic energy and environmental policy,” NEC director and top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who started in the job earlier this month, said in a statement.
“His expertise and dedication to the Trump Administration’s energy independence priorities was greatly valued and he will be missed. We thank him for his leadership and we wish him well on his future endeavors.”
Catanzaro was rarely the public face of the Trump administration’s policies, but he was a leading figure in the administration for carrying out Trump’s aggressive deregulatory and pro-fossil fuel agenda.
He played a significant role in the ongoing rollback of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and its Clean Water Rule.
“We are thrilled to welcome Mike back to CGCN,” Steve Clark, the firm’s managing partner, said in a statement.
“Our firm is like a family, and we are proud Mike wanted to come back to us after his service in the government. He is a tireless worker with an unrivaled command of energy and environmental policy and even stronger sense of integrity. His 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.”
Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) center for energy and environment said Catanzaro left under “continuing chaos” at the White House.
“Mike has done an outstanding job helping to implement the president’s ambitious environmental reform agenda. And he’s done it under difficult circumstances, amid continuing chaos in the White House and with many key political appointments in the agencies unfilled. It will be hard to find someone as good as Mike and as committed as he is to the Trump agenda,” Ebell said in a statement.
The White House said Francis Brooke, currently a policy adviser to Vice President Pence, will take over Catanzaro’s job when he leaves.
Brooke has at least some experience with the energy and environment portfolio. He was part of the Trump administration’s delegation in November to the United Nations’ climate talks in Bonn, Germany, where he and others defended Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate agreement.
Catanzaro’s departure comes two months after George David Banks stepped down from his post as Trump’s leading adviser for international energy and environment issues, which included the Paris agreement.
Banks said he left because he was unable to get a security clearance since he smoked marijuana years ago.
Other staff switch-ups at NEC include recently appointed Larry Kudlow, who accepted the job to lead the council in March a week after Gary Cohn resigned. Cohn left partly due to his opposition to Trump’s decision to place tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.
Catanzaro’s clients at CGCN previously included the American Chemistry Council, Koch Industries, Devon Energy Corp. and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.
Under Trump’s ethics pledge, Catanzaro will be prohibited for five years from lobbying the NEC. CGCN says it plans to abide by the pledge and other relevant restrictions he is under.
This story was last updated at 4:37 p.m.