Energy lobbyist expected to land key White House slot

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2017

President Trump is expected to hire an energy lobbyist with executive branch experience and deep ties to Capitol Hill Republicans for a top White House energy post.

Mike Catanzaro, a lobbyist at CGCN Group whose résumé also includes stints at the White House and U.S. EPA, is expected to soon sign on as special assistant to the president for energy and environmental issues in the White House National Economic Council, according to two sources close to the Trump administration.

He’d take a post that’s expected to be one of the most influential energy positions in the Trump administration.

Catanzaro would be tasked with “implementing the president’s domestic energy and environment agenda and kind of managing the inter-agency process that deals with those issues,” said one person close to the administration.

“This is likely to be the most influential domestic energy policy position within the White House,” that person said. And his selection “will comfort industry and conservatives who view him as a champion for free-market energy and environment policy.”

The Trump team is actively looking to fill several key White House energy and environmental slots (Greenwire, Feb. 2).

Open jobs include a leader for the Council on Environmental Quality — a Senate-confirmed post — and an aide to work on international energy issues.

The Trump White House isn’t expected to have an energy and climate “czar,” a position that was held by Carol Browner during the early years of President Obama’s tenure.

Catanzaro helped to lead Trump’s early energy and environment transition operations but stepped down in November during a broader transition shakeup after the Trump team announced a crackdown on registered lobbyists.

He previously helped lead the environmental transition operation for Mitt Romney’s campaign during the 2012 election.

Catanzaro worked on Capitol Hill as the top energy aide in then-House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office from 2011 until 2012 and was a top staffer to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

He also worked in the executive branch as associate deputy administrator and chief of staff to then-EPA deputy chief Marcus Peacock during the George W. Bush administration and worked as associate director for policy at the Council on Environmental Quality in 2005.

Since he joined the Republican lobbying shop CGCN in 2014, Catanzaro’s clients have included the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the American Chemistry Council, Devon Energy Corp., America’s Natural Gas Alliance, General Motors Co., Koch Cos. Public Sector LLC and many others, according to lobbying disclosures.

If he signs on to work in the Trump White House, Catanzaro would presumably comply with the administration’s limits on lobbying (E&E Daily, Jan. 30).

The White House press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.