The White House plans to name Wells Griffith, an Energy Department official who worked on Donald Trump’s campaign, as one of the president’s top energy and environmental advisers, three people familiar with the decision said Saturday.
Griffith, who has been principal deputy assistant secretary in the Energy Department’s Office of International Affairs, will join the National Economic Council, where he will coordinate White House efforts on international energy and climate issues.
The position is said to be for a three-month trial basis that could lead to a permanent position, according to one of the sources, who didn’t want to be named discussing a decision that has yet to be made public.
Griffith will take over the role previously occupied by George David Banks, who left in February after being denied a security clearance because of marijuana use. Griffith is said to already have security clearance needed for the job.
Griffith’s new role will keep him focused on international energy issues, including policy questions about liquefied natural gas exports to Europe and coal power plants around the world.
Griffith may also play a role in continued discussions about the U.S. role in international efforts to combat climate change. Although Trump announced the U.S. would pull out of the landmark Paris agreement to slash greenhouse gas emissions on June 1, 2017, the country can’t formally leave until November 2020.
The Trump administration has been pushing for United Nations and multilateral development bank funds to support the construction of high-efficiency plants that produce less greenhouse gas emissions than older designs as well as construct “clean coal” plants that employ carbon-capture technology to strip out even more.
Griffith was a political operative helping the Trump campaign secure votes in battleground states in 2016. He also served as a deputy chief of staff to Reince Priebus, when Priebus was chairman of the Republican National Committee.
While at the Energy Department, Griffith played a key role in a deal heralded by the Trump administration to export 700,000 tons of coal from Pennsylvania’s Xcoal Energy & Resources LLC to Ukraine, according to E&E News, which previously reported Griffith’s selection for the National Economic Council spot.