Koch Industries and Fracking Lobbyist Mike Catanzaro To Lead Trump Energy Team

The Washington Post has reported that Mike Catanzaro, a former senior energy staffer for Republican Party House Majority Leader John Boehner with a track record of climate change denial, will lead Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump's energy transition team. 

Catanzaro now works as a partner at the lobbying firm CGCN, where his clients include Noble Energy, Koch Industries, EnCana Oil and Gas, HalliburtonDevon Energy and others. For those clients, he lobbies on issues such as pushing for more drilling on public lands on behalf of EnCana, against emissions regulations for drilling onshore and offshore wells on public lands for Hess Corporation and Devon, and for offshore drilling in Israel on behalf of Noble Energy. 

Noble Energy Executive Vice President Chip Rimer, also a member of the Board of Directors for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, recently attended a private meeting between Colorado fracking industry executives and Trump in Denver, Colorado.

Beyond oil and gas issues, Catanzaro also lobbies against President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which calls for regulating carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. In a May speech, the climate change-denying Trump said he intends to “rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan” if elected president. 

Catanzaro is not the only Devon connection to the Trump campaign: Larry Nichols, Devon co-founder and Board of Directors Chairman Emeritus, also serves as a Trump energy adviser.

The Post's story landed the same day DeSmog reported that Kathleen Hartnett-White, the climate change-denying former aide to First Lady Nancy Reagan and chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) under Republican Governor Rick Perry, is under consideration to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if Trump assumes the White House.

DeSmog has also reported that Trump's prospective Secretary of Energy, hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) baron Harold Hamm — founder and CEO of Continental Resources — stands to gain economically from the building of TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access Pipeline.

Catanzaro: Oil-Soaked Road to Team Trump

Catanzaro's current role in heading up Trump's energy team is over a decade in the making, with a career track record soaked in oil and gas.

After a brief stint as a writer who studied at the industry-funded right-wing National Journalism Institute, Catanzaro launched his career as a communications director for the U.S. Congress' climate change denier-in-chief, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). Inhofe made waves in February 2015 by bringing a snowball onto the Senate floor as his evidence that climate change is a “hoax.”

After his time spent in Inhofe's office, Catanzaro spent the second term of the George W. Bush Administration working on energy policy issues and then serving as Associate Deputy Administrator of the EPA, while also working on Bush's 2004 presidential campaign. He then passed through the government-industry revolving door, becoming a lobbyist and director of federal relations for coal utility company Pennsylvania Power & Light for a couple years until moving back into government and working for Inhofe again on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee as Deputy Staff Director.

After Inhofe, Catanzaro got a job working as senior energy policy adviser to Rep. Boehner, where he worked for a bit less than two years. During that time he also worked on 2012 Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign, heading up its EPA policy transition team. 

“Laugh Test”

Perhaps looking for a pay raise, Catanzaro left the Committee after a couple years on the job and went back to the lobbying world, securing a job at FTI Consulting.

FTI runs the fracking industry-funded front group Energy In Depth, which serves as an attack dog PR voice on behalf of the industry and helps to fend off criticism by citizens, regulators, policymakers and the media.

While employed by FTI, Catanzaro testified in Congress against the Clean Power Plan, co-authored a paper supporting the export of U.S. crude oil and advocated for weakening the Endangered Species Act. 

Continuing the trend of never staying anywhere for too long, after a couple years at FTI, Catanzaro has spent the past two years working for the lobbying firm CGCN Group and as a senior fellow for the industry-funded American Council on Capital Formation (ACCF), according to his LinkedIn profile.

In 2015, Catanzaro gave a presentation noting that if a Republican wins the White House, one of the first things he will do in office is overturn incorporating climate change into National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews of proposed federal energy infrastructure projects, something called for recently by the Obama Administration

“Trump’s anointment of Catanzaro to head his energy transition team, if elected, doesn’t pass the laugh test. As someone who has spent his entire career shilling for the dirty energy industry, it’s hard to imagine anyone more compromised,” Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Action Fund, told DeSmog. “When future generations study how self-serving climate deniers gained public prominence, he will be one of the people named.”

Photo Credit: U.S. National Archives at College Park