White House to tap energy official as new climate lead – reports

Wells Griffith, who worked on the Trump campaign, has spent the last year negotiating exports deals for the US energy industry

Wells Griffith (second from right) at the launch of the first shipment of Pennsylvanian thermal coal to Ukraine in August 2017 (Photo: US Energy Department)


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The White House has reportedly picked an energy department official who worked on the Trump campaign as the president’s senior advisor on international climate policy.

Washington-based E&E News cited sources on the weekend that said Wells Griffith would join the National Economic Council, coordinating White House efforts on international energy and climate issues.

Griffith will take on the role vacated by George David Banks, who resigned in February.

Banks became a focal point for governments attempting to negotiate with the White House regarding climate policy. This was particularly the case for European commission officials, who maintained regular contact with Banks, who was a supporter of the US staying in the Paris climate deal.

Griffith served as battleground states director during Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He has since worked in international affairs at the department of energy.

“Griffith has been an integral part of the administration’s negotiation efforts throughout this past year, so he’ll be able to jump right into the role,” an administration official told E&E. 

The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment. The position has not been formally announced. Bloomberg also reported the news, again citing unnamed official sources.

Griffith was instrumental in landing a coal export deal with Ukraine last year. Griffith’s links to Ukraine and work strengthening the US energy industry’s overseas interests will spur those who wish to see industry given a stronger voice at UN climate conferences.

During the most recent UN climate talks in November, Climate Home News reported on a Ukrainian proposal that could give energy corporations access to the talks. Ukrainian officials said the US government had responded positively to the proposal. Although at the time Banks said he had not heard about the plan.

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