White House energy adviser George David Banks’ resignation this week has attracted an unexpected group of mourners — environmentalists and former President Barack Obama’s administration staffers.
Banks resigned on Tuesday after he was denied a permanent security clearance because he admitted to using marijuana in 2013. Banks was one of many White House staffers working on a temporary security clearance.
Some former Obama administration officials and environmentalists, however, seem to be taking the loss harder than many conservatives, who opposed the former energy adviser’s support of international climate treaties.
“He will be a hard act to follow,” Andrew Light, a climate aide to Obama’s State Department who know works at the World Resources Institute, told Axios.
“In the meantime, Paris will remain an open question in nearly every international meeting of consequence the President walks into,” Light said. “We’ll see if they are able to put someone in that position who can keep so many balls in the air at once as Dave was able to manage.”
“It’s hard to imagine who would want to step into this environment, especially because Dave Banks is someone who had a lot of friendship and support across communities,” Heather Coleman, the climate and energy director of Oxfam America, told E&E News.
“I think it’s a loss, regardless of your politics,” echoed Paul Bodnar, a White House energy adviser under Obama. Bodnar said this was “because Dave was a well-informed, engaged senior energy and climate policymaker, and his departure further depletes the ranks of the administration’s bench on international affairs generally and specifically on this issue.”
Banks was one of several top Trump administration officials who supported remaining in the Paris climate accord, and he kept looking for ways for the U.S. to stay engaged on the issue even after President Donald Trump announced withdrawal from the agreement.
Banks also supported the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol that would limit the greenhouse gas, hydrofluorocarbons. The U.S. air conditioning industry supported the amendment, and, of course, were sad to see Banks leave.
European diplomats would miss Banks, who they saw as an ally in the White House when it came to the Paris climate accord, E&E News reported.
“I think that he well understood this administration’s priorities — especially when it came to their fossil fuel strategy — as well as a clear understanding of what it meant to put the United States on the other side of an overwhelming international concern and response to the impacts of climate change,” Light said.
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