President Trump is expected to tap a former George W. Bush administration official to be deputy administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Jeff Holmstead, who was the longest-serving EPA air pollution chief under Bush, will be Trump's deputy administrator pick, according to Axios. He had once been on the president's shortlist to lead the agency, which is now lead by former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
Holmstead is much more moderate and measured when it comes to environmental decisions. He told the Washington Examiner last year that he wouldn't advise a new Republican president to leave the Paris climate change agreement, and said it wasn't worth expending political capital on something that isn't a binding international agreement.
"If I were advising the new president, I would advise that it would be a mistake to try to take any action to pull out of Paris," Holmstead told the Washington Examiner last spring. "Paris is what it is. It is largely a political statement, and I don't think there would be any reason either legal or political to try to withdraw from the treaty. You would be using up a lot of political capital on something that doesn't matter very much."
Axios pointed out that Holmstead also opposes revisiting the EPA's 2009 scientific finding that greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health. The endangerment finding is used by the agency as the basis for developing climate regulations. At the same time, he believes the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan is legally questionable.
"People have said you can't undo the endangerment finding [outlining the EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide], and that may be true. But you don't need to revoke the endangerment finding to say the Clean Power Plan goes way beyond statutory authority. And you would do something that was more consistent with congressional intent," Holmstead told the Washington Examiner last April.
Holmstead is currently a partner and head of environmental policy at the Bracewell law firm in Washington, and has lobbied on the side of the coal industry.
Scott Segal, the head of policy resolution at Bracewell, said in a statement that the Axios report on Holmstead's appointment is "highly premature" and that he is "in no position to confirm whether the administration is actively considering Jeff for the post," Segal said.
"However, we understand why the story is plausible," he added. "Jeff's record in public service is unparalleled. He served as an EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation during the George W. Bush Administration, and as a White House counsel working on environmental issues during the George H.W. Bush Administration," Segal said.
"Jeff's reputation as an expert in all aspects of environmental law and policy is well known, and his subsequent role as a partner at Bracewell has only strengthened and deepened his experience," the statement read.