George David Banks

George “David” Banks

Credentials

  • JD, European Union Law, George Mason University (2003). [1]
  • MA, Economics, University of Missouri-Saint Louis (1994). [1]
  • BA, History, Economics, Political Science, University of Missouri-Saint Louis (1991). [1]

Background

George David Banks is listed as executive vice president with the American Council for Capital Formation (ACCF). In 2018, Banks was hired to be an expert on “international climate policy” for the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), leaving a prior position as an energy advisor in the Trump Administration. [2]

Note that Banks' profile at Columbia University's CGEP originally said he was no longer employed as Executive Vice President at ACCF while other profiles including LinkedIn and Clearpath still described his ACCF position as current as of May 21, 2018, and after DeSmog inquired with CGEP, the center added a new profile May 22 to reflect Banks' current position with ACCF[31], [1], [30]

Banks, like a number of other senior officials, left the Trump administration due to his inability to get a permanent security clearance. He told Politico, “It was an honor to serve the president at the White House and I look forward to supporting the president in the future.” [3]

Before joining the American Council for Capital Formation in 2015, Banks was senior adviser on international affairs and climate change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) under George W. Bush. [5]

Earlier, while working as a partner at Boyden Gray & Associates, Banks was a registered lobbyist for energy companies with clients including Constellation, FirstEnergy, and the Nuclear Energy Institute. [1]

Banks formerly worked under notorious climate change denier James Inhofe at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, replacing Mike Catanzaro as the EPW's Deputy Staff Director in June 2011. [6]

The Energy and Policy Institute reports that Banks has also worked with the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED), an anti-wind activist group founded by climate change denier John Droz, Jr. During his time at AWED, banks also worked closely with the American Energy Alliance (AEA). According to his profile at the Heartland Institute, where was formerly a policy advisor, Banks helped “coordinate AWED’s activity with other Tea Party groups, conservative think tanks and organizations, and other interests, including the private sector.” [7], [8]

Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP)

While CGEP claims to be “independent and non-partisan,” the group has regularly advocated on energy issues including  the export of  oil obtained by via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”)Mexico's energy sector privatization and others. [26]

DeSmog has sought to identify donors behind CGEP. In 2015, Politico revealed for the first time that the oil giant ExxonMobil was a key donor. Through its foundation, Exxon gave $219,229 to Columbia University in 2014, plus $9,000 in direct grants.  They also gave “$25,000 last year to the markets program at the university's Center on Global Energy Policy.” [27][28]

According to ExxonMobil's 2015 annual giving report, they increased funding to CGEP to $50,000 that year while their 2016 giving report shows another of $50,000 directed to CGEP. [29]

Lobbying History

David Banks lobbied alongside C. Boyden Gray, working at his firm Boyden Gray & Associates, and also at Gray & Schmitz LLP. Gray has historically questioned the need to act on climate change while representing companies from the energy industry. Banks has also been listed as Managing Director of Vanguard Political, “a strategic consultancy that works to bridge and integrate state and local advocacy efforts with lobbying campaigns in Washington.” [9]

From 2009 to 2011, Banks was a partner at Boyden Gray & Associates. According to statements about his work, Banks also worked on “lobbying campaigns” for AWED and the Battle Group, although these do not appear in online lobbying disclosures. [1][7]

While Banks was a registered lobbyist for ACCF on “Tax, Environment, and Regulatory Issues” in 2015 and 2016, ACCF later claimed that he was “mistakenly” registered, and that the work he did for them did not qualify as lobbying. [10]

According to public lobbying disclosures, Banks' clients included energy companies: [11]

ID Registrant Name Client Name Filing Year
316500000 AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR CAPITAL FORMATION AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR CAPITAL FORMATION 2015
316500000 AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR CAPITAL FORMATION AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR CAPITAL FORMATION 2016
416560001 Boyden Gray & Associates PLLC First Energy Corporation 2011
416560001 Boyden Gray & Associates PLLC First Energy Corporation 2011
416560001 Boyden Gray & Associates PLLC First Energy Corporation 2011
412340002 Gray & Schmitz LLP Constellation Energy 2010
412340002 Gray & Schmitz LLP Constellation Energy 2010
412340002 Gray & Schmitz LLP Constellation Energy 2010
412340002 Gray & Schmitz LLP Constellation Energy 2009
412340002 Gray & Schmitz LLP Constellation Energy 2010
412340002 Gray & Schmitz LLP Constellation Energy 2010
412340005 Gray & Schmitz LLP First Energy Corporation 2010
412340005 Gray & Schmitz LLP First Energy Corporation 2010
412340005 Gray & Schmitz LLP First Energy Corporation 2010
412340000 Gray & Schmitz LLP Nuclear Energy Institute 2009
412340000 Gray & Schmitz LLP Nuclear Energy Institute 2009

Stance on Climate Change

April 19, 2018

Banks spoke on a panel at the CGEP's global energy summit on a panel titled “Climate Change: What's Next on Technology and Policy?” [12]

“We think that, at least from the Trump administration’s perspective, and I agree with this, this is my personal perspective as well, is that climate is certainly a challenge and is a major problem that we need to work together to address. But there are other big issues out there that I would certainly argue are much more challenging, much more immediate,” Banks said.

November 2017

Banks appeared on a U.S. panel at the United Nations climate summit in Bonn, Germany. DeSmog reported that when asked by a Chinese journalist, Banks defended Trump’s 2012 tweet about climate change being a hoax from the Chinese. He said that people forget about the rest of the tweet, that it was a hoax from the Chinese meant to undermine U.S. manufacturing, and that this defense of American competitiveness was the point of it. [13]

Key Quotes

March 5, 2019

Responding to efforts by the Trump administration to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change, Banks told the Washington Examiner

“Any kind of objective analysis of climate change is going to result in a conclusion that there is a national security impact.” [32]

February 2018

According to the New York Times, while Banks stood beside President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, he had also urged him behind-the-scenes to remain in: [14]

I’m going to say something controversial,” Banks, said in an interview after leaving his position in the Trump Administration. “The Paris agreement is a good Republican agreement. It’s everything the Bush administration wanted.”

November 2017

Following a panel at the UN climate change talks in Bonn, when asked by Climate Home News whether the administration held the policy that the 2C warming target from the Paris deal, Banks said: [15]

“I actually don’t know what that means, the 2C target.”

On the Paris deal, Banks also said: [15]

We’re part of the UNFCCC and climate mitigation is an important goal of the US but… I don’t think its any surprise that economic prosperity is a higher priority. When the president looks at the Paris Agreement and climate policy in general, he looks through the lens of what effect does this have on US manufacturing and competitiveness.”

August 20 2012

In a letter to colleagues explaining his departure as deputy staff director for Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member James Inhofe, Banks wrote: [16]

It’s been a privilege serving under Senator Inhofe, who all of you know is a champion of protecting the national interest and guarding against EPA overreach […] over the past several months, it’s become quite obvious to me that we are losing the war against politicized environmentalism.”

August 2012

When asked about his ties to lobbyist C. Boyden Gray, FreedomWorks, and Americans for Prosperity, Banks responded to Politico Pro: [7]

“I was kind of on the circuit with some of these guys, but there’s obviously a limit of what you can do in the Senate,” he said, noting a desire to do more media appearances. “I’d like to do more of that if possible.”

Key Deeds

April 2018

Banks spoke on a panel at the CGEP's global energy summit on climate change and policy. [12]

View video below:

During the panel, Banks claimed that climate change was not the most important issue on the agenda: [12]

We think that, at least from the Trump administration’s perspective, and I agree with this, this is my personal perspective as well, is that climate is certainly a challenge and is a major problem that we need to work together to address. But there are other big issues out there that I would certainly argue are much more challenging, much more immediate,” Banks said. [12]

He added that “I think there are other issues that have more of an impact and just have more consequences when it comes to global security and one of those is energy access, it’s poverty eradication.” [12]

Banks concluded that there is no way to avoid fossil fuel use, “therefore we need to face that reality and make sure that the fossil [sic] that’s being deployed is being used as cleanly and as efficiently as possible.” [12]

October 6, 2017

Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government reform, wrote a letter to Secretary Ryan Zinke expressing concern over personnel reassignments, suggesting they could be to “punish employees you believe are not 'loyal.'” Federal whistleblower Joel Clement had written in his complaint to the OSC that he suspected his reassignment could have been influenced by Banks: [17], [18]

“Mr. Clement believes his reassignment was in retaliation for disclosures he made to George D. Banks, the Special Assistant to the President for International Energy and Environment, about the risks to human health in Alaska Native communities created by the effects of climate change. On April 21, 2017, approximately two months before he was reassigned, Mr. Clement sent an email warning Mr. Banks of 'the importance of building resilience for these communities,' which are 'imminently threatened,'” Cummings wrote in his letter to Zinke. [18]

December 2016

Banks wrote an ACCCF report advocating to cancel the wind production tax credit (PTC). “Congress should recognize that its goals related to the PTC have been achieved and refuse to renew the tax credit; any remaining concerns on the Hill should be alleviated by the CPP’s continued, perhaps never ending benefits for wind that come at the expense of fossil generators,” Banks wrote. [19]

May 2013

Writing at the Center for Strategic and Internationla Studies (CSIS), Banks discussed how “the Nuclear Energy Program at CSIS plans to work with interested stakeholders to help educate the public and the policymaking community on the unintended consequences of subsidized generation on America’s civil nuclear fleet—effects that are not generally well understood or appreciated.” [20]

The program focused on examining “the impacts of renewable tax credits at the federal level and renewable portfolio and efficiency mandates, as well as subsidized gas plants at the state level” including the Wind Production Tax Credit. [20]

Banks was also a co-author of a June 2013 report by CSIS on nuclear energy policy, recommending government intervention to support the industry. [21]

December 2012

Banks joined John Droz and AWED representatives for a meeting with then House Speaker John Boehner, according to an AWED PTC Trip Report. According to the report, “We had one message and that was to let the PTC die a natural death when it expires on December 31, 2012.” [22]

September 2012

Banks was brought on by the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED) to oppose new wind projects, The Washington Post reported. AWED worked with FreedomWorks to create online opposition to the tax credit through social media including Facebook. [23]

“Because it’s a wealth transfer from areas of the country that don’t have wind to ones which do have wind, and have renewable mandates, this issue is more of a state-specific issue than a partisan one,” Banks said in an interview. [23]

The Energy and Policy Institute asked AWED's John Droz whether Banks was being paid for his work: [23]

 “Everyone involved with AWED (including me) is an unpaid volunteer, who is committed to Science-based energy policies,” Droz responded via email. [23]

When asked if any other “individual, organizations, or companies may have been paying Banks for his work on wind energy issues while he was a ‘volunteer’ for AWED,” AWED responded: [23]

“I have no knowledge of any other groups that Dave was connected with during the period of time he volunteered for AWED.” [23]

Affiliations

  • Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) — Adjunct Research Scholar (since April 2018)[1]
  • American Coucil for Capital Formation (ACCF— Executive Vice President (Listed Mar 2018 to Present, and also from Jan 2015 to Feb 2017 according to LinkedIn.) [1]
  • The Heartland Institute Former Policy Advisor. [8]
  • Vanguard Political — Managing Director [9]
  • Alliance of Wise Energy Decisions (AWED) — Former Director of D.C. Operations[8]
  • ClearPath Foundation Board Member & Policy Advisor[1], [30]
  • Trump Administration — Former “Special Assistant to the President” on international energy and environment. [1]
  • Bush 43 Administration — Senior adviser on international affairs and climate change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). 
  • Battle Group, LLC — Managing Director (Sept 2012 – Dec 2014). [1]
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS— Senior Fellow, nuclear energy program. [1]
  • US Senate — Republican Deputy Staff Director, Environment & Public Works Committee under Jim Inhofe. [1]
  • Boyden Gray & Associates — Partner (Feb 2009 – Jul 2011)
  • Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD) — Senior Law Fellow (Feb 2009 – Aug 2010). [1]
  • Executive Office of the President (Bush 43 Administration) — Senior Advisor, International Affairs & Climate Change, Council on Environmental Quality. (Aug 2006 – Jan 2009) [24][1]
  • U.S. Department of State — Foreign Service Officer - Deputy Head of EST Unit, Economis Section (“main point of contact for climate change issues at the U.S. Mission to the European Union (USEU) under Ambassador C. Boyden Gray.” [1]
  • Central Intelligence Agency — Economic & Legal Analyst (Aug 1995 – Dec 2003) [1]
  • U.S. House of Representatives — Legislative Fellow for Howard Berman [1]

Social Media

A screenshot by the Energy and Policy Institute suggests that George David Banks once had a Twitter account @georgedbanks, although it no longer appears to exist:

Publications

George David Banks regularly publishes articles and reports on the Americans for Capital Formation website. According to his profile, “Banks has published reports and opinion editorials on a variety of policy issues, including climate change, civil nuclear power, and energy markets and trade.” [25]

Sample articles include:

Resources

  1. George David Banks,” LinkedIn. Accessed May 17, 2018.

  2. Former White House Special Assistant for International Energy and Environment, George David Banks, Joins Center on Global Energy Policy,” Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy, April 18, 2018. Archived May 17, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.li/MF6NW

  3. Justin Worland. “Another White House Official Just Resigned Because He Couldn’t Get a Security Clearance,” Time, February 14, 2018. Archived May 17, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/AwMd1

  4. Officers & Staff,” ACCF. Archived May 17, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/IWFC9

  5. ACCF welcomes George 'David' Banks as Executive Vice President,” American Council for Capital Formation, January 29, 2015. Archived February 6, 2015. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/0zcup

  6. (Press Release). “Inhofe Welcomes Dave Banks to EPW Committee,” U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, June 9, 2011. Archived May 19, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.li/cnjHl

  7. David Anderson. “George David Banks: Trump’s climate advisor worked with anti-wind and climate skeptic groups,” Energy and Policy Institute. Archived May 10, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/gDYYW

  8. DAVE BANKS,” The Heartland Institute. Archived October 15, 2016. Archive.is URL: http://archive.fo/OxBF7

  9. Contributor: David Banks,National Journal. Archived April 27, 2013. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/xiNGW

  10. Justin Elliott. “How the Trump Administration May Be Skirting Its Own Ethics Rules,” Mother Jones, March 7, 2017. Archived May 17, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/DhN9Q

  11. Lobbying Disclosure Search, Office of the Clerk. Performed May 17, 2018.

  12. Columbia Global Energy Summit 2 of 6 – Climate change: What’s next on technology and policy?” YouTube video uploaded by user “Center on Global Energy and Policy,” April 21, 2018. Archived .mp4 on file at DesMog,

  13. Ashley Braun. “State Leaders Diss Trump Coal Revival as US Pushes 'Cleaner' Fossil Fuels at Climate Talks,” DeSmog, November 13, 2017. Archived May 17, 2018.

  14. Lisa Friedman. “Former Trump Aide Calls Paris Climate Accord ‘a Good Republican Agreement’,” The New York Times, February 22, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/tM8I4

  15. Trump’s climate official: ‘I actually don’t know what 2C means’,” Climate Home News, November 13, 2017. Archived May 17, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/vgE3T

  16. Amy Harder. “Inhofe Aide Who Wrote E-Mail Criticizing Energy Lobbyists Leaves Committee Staff,” National Journal, Auugust 20, 2012. Republished by Yahoo. Archived May 17, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/Fg6Wp

  17. As Whistleblower Joel Clement Calls on Interior Secretary Zinke to Resign, Even Stronger Steps for Government Accountability are Needed,” Climate Science and Policy Watch, October 13, 2017. Archived May 17, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/2lrTA

  18. “Dear Mr. Secretary” (PDF), Congress of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, October 6, 2017.

  19. “Clean Power Plan Subsidies for Wind Reinforces Arguments Against Renewing the PTC” (PDF), ACCF, November 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  20. The Unintended Consequences of Energy Mandates and Subsidies on America’s Civil Nuclear Fleet,” CSIS, May 13, 2013. Archived May 17, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/gHanh

  21. “Restoring U.S. Leadership in Nuclear Energy: A National Security Imperative” (PDF), CSIS, June 2013.

  22. AWED December 2012 DC PTC Trip Report” (PDF), Retrieved from Black River Valley Macintosh User Group.

  23. Unusual coalitions clash over wind energy tax credit,” The Washington Post, September 20, 2012. Archived May 17, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/ntDII

  24. ACCF welcomes George 'David' Banks as Executive Vice President,” American Council for Capital Formation, January 29, 2015. Archived February 6, 2015. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/0zcup

  25. George David Banks,” ACCF. Archived May 19, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/OF8p2

  26. Center on Global Energy Policy” (PDF), Columbia SIPA. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

  27. Exposed: ExxonMobil Funding Influential Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy,” DeSmog, December 1, 2015.

  28. Exxon takes aim at Columbia University journalists over climate reports,” Politico, November 30, 2015. Archived May 21, 2018. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.li/R2oXQ

  29. Exxon Increases Funding to Energy Think-Tank Run By Former Top Obama Energy Aide,” DeSmog, July 18, 2016.

  30. George David Banks,” ClearParth. Archived May 21, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/wuqbY

  31. George Dave Banks,” Columbia SIPA Center on Global Energy Policy. Archived May 21, 2018. Archive.is URL: https://archive.li/ChpU3

  32. Josh Siegel. “Former Obama official helping Trump establish 'climate contrarians' panel,” Washington Examiner, March 5, 2019. Archived March 5, 2019. Archive.is URLhttp://archive.is/zXq4n

Other Resources