Ex-Trump Aide Who Backed Paris Accord to Join House Panel, Sources Say

(Bloomberg) -- A former White House environmental adviser who fought to keep the U.S. in a global pact to slash greenhouse gas emissions is joining the Republican staff of a House climate change committee, one of two appointments signaling the party’s shift in strategy on the issue.

George David Banks, the former adviser to President Donald Trump, will serve as a chief strategist for Republicans, handling policy and communications on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. And the committee’s new Republican staff director will be Marty Hall, a onetime environmental aide to former President George W. Bush who now works for ClearPath Foundation, a conservative group that advocates for clean energy.

“They’re ready to get going and help us advance the work underway to move the climate discussion in a direction that will produce policies and ideas for an all-of-the-above energy future that creates more employment opportunities, improves American competitiveness, and protects the environment,” Louisiana Representative Garret Graves, the panel’s top Republican, said in a statement.

The hires show Republicans are feeling pressure to treat global warming seriously and could signal a more centrist approach. Some Republicans have already pivoted on the issue and begun advancing proposals to mitigate climate change, amid growing public alarm about the Earth’s rising temperatures and pressure from Democrats, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to aggressively cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Banks has a history treading middle ground on the climate, including during his tenure on the National Economic Council serving as a special assistant to the president for international energy and environmental policy issues.

Banks played a leading role in a failed bid to persuade Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris agreement, a global pact to throttle carbon dioxide emissions that drive climate change. Although the U.S. cannot formally exit the accord until 2020, Trump announced in June 2017 he’d be pulling out of the deal. Banks resigned early the next year.

ClearPath has played a behind-the-scenes role advising Republicans on how to address climate change, encouraging a focus on spurring innovation and technological solutions.

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