President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday evening his intention to nominate Mary Neumayr to head the White House council that coordinates energy and environmental policy across the administration.
Neumayr has the backing of conservative movement leaders and key Senate Republicans. Backers see Neumayr as a key player in implementing sweeping reforms to environmental laws holding back economic growth.
“Mary is a strong conservative with all the expertise and experience necessary to implement President Trump’s ambitious agenda to reform National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitting,” Myron Ebell, former Trump transition team leader, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“I congratulate her on her nomination, and look forward to her confirmation,” Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma in a statement to E&E News, which first reported Neumayr’s nomination on Tuesday.
Neumayr has served as chief of staff on the Council on Environmental Quality since March 2017, previously serving as senior counsel for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce from 2011 to 2017. Before that Neumayr was a lawyer at the Energy Department and Justice Department.
Neumayr’s nomination comes about four months after the White House withdrew its nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White to head CEQ.
White came under intense scrutiny from Democrats over her opposition to liberal climate policies and from corn state Republicans concerned about her opposition to the federal ethanol mandate. (RELATED: DNC Will No Longer Take Money From Fossil Fuel Companies)
Neumayr might prove more palatable for pro-ethanol GOP lawmakers, and could even get backing from moderate Democrats. Ebell said her expertise in streamlining infrastructure permitting makes her a good candidate for CEQ.
“The NEPA permitting process is being used by federal bureaucrats and environmental pressure groups to delay resource and development projects to death,” Ebell said. “Many major projects can now be stuck in red tape and then litigation for ten or fifteen years. Investors give up and move their projects to other countries where environmental permitting typically takes two to five years.”
Trump’s $1.5-trillion infrastructure plan includes sweeping changes to NEPA, including a “one agency, one decision” policy to keep needless bureaucracy from bogging down major projects.
“Fixing the broken NEPA process is a big challenge, and Mary Neumayr is a good choice to take it on,” said Ebell, director of energy and climate policy at the free market Competitive Enterprise Institute.
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