8 of 45 new EPA top staff come from the coal and oil industries

Business Insider obtained a list of 45 official senior leadership hires for the EPA, and it’s filled with people who have coal and oil industry connections. Many new hires worked close with EPA administrator Pruitt or other Oklahoma politicians — not an abnormal pick for someone like Pruitt.

A bit more surprising: eight of the hires come from the coal and oil industries; others come from the chemical industry.

Here are some of the most notable hires, obtained from an EPA internal email sent by EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson, welcoming the new staff members:

Troy Lyons, Associate Administrator for the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations

Lyons comes from a role as manager of federal government affairs at Hess Corporation, Greenwire reported. Hess Corp is a petroleum refineries company “engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas.”

Tate Bennett, Deputy Associate Administrator for Intergovernmental Relations

Bennett was a coal utility lobbyist as recently as this year, according to Inside Climate News. Her role as a coal lobbyist may actually violate Trump’s ethics order. According to Inside Climate News,
Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) sent a letter
to Pruitt arguing that “Because of her activities as a registered federal lobbyist she cannot work on legislation, communicate with Congress, or coordinate and monitor regional, state and local responses to a wide-range of major issues faced by EPA.” Inside Climate News reported Bennett lobbied for National Rural Electric Cooperative Association — whose members are primarily reliant on coal — for two years.

Christian Palich, Deputy Associate Administrator for Congressional Relations

Palich is president of the Ohio Coal Association, which describes itself as “a trade association representing Ohio’s coal industry and committed to advancing the development and utilization of Ohio Coal.”

Liz Snyder Bowman, Acting Associate Administrator for Public Affairs

Bowman is the first of a few names on the list to come from the American Chemistry Council, a lobbying group for chemicals and plastics. Bowman was Director of Issue and Advocacy Communications for the firm, according to her LinkedIn profile. The American Chemistry Council members include Dow Chemical Corporation, Monsanto, DuPont, Exxon Mobil Chemical Company and Marathon Petroleum Corporation, among others.

Patrick Traylor, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance

Most recently, Traylor worked for Hogan Lovells as an associate attorney and then a partner, according to his LinkedIn. However, before that he worked at the American Chemistry Council as a law clerk.

Erik Baptist, Senior Deputy General Counsel

Us oil flagNeil KremerA US flag flies at an oil refinery.

Baptist was previously senior counsel for the American Petroleum Institute, according to his LinkedIn page. According to the Institute, “API’s mission is to promote safety across the industry globally and to influence public policy in support of a strong, viable U.S. oil and natural gas industry.”

Dr. Nancy Beck, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention


At her old position at the American Chemistry Council, Beck attacked the EPA for regulating toxic chemicals such as 1-bromopropane. Now, she’ll be in charge of implementing
the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act
, which amends the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the country’s primary chemicals management law, Bloomberg reported. The law — which received bipartisan support — includes “mandatory requirement for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, a new risk-based safety standard, and increased public transparency for chemical information,” with consistent funding to accomplish it.

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