Mandy Gunasekara, a former senior EPA official, is expected to return to the agency in a top role.
Gunasekara is poised to be EPA’s next chief of staff, sources told E&E News. She first joined the agency in March 2017 and was later named principal deputy assistant administrator in the air office.
She left EPA in February last year to found the Energy 45 Fund, a nonprofit group that defended President Trump’s energy policies.
Gunasekara’s return to EPA as chief of staff was first reported by The Washington Post.
Gunasekara said in a text message that she couldn’t comment at this time.
Asked for comment, EPA spokeswoman Molly Block said, "Ryan Jackson is Chief of Staff at EPA until February 21st, at which time Michael Molina will serve as Acting Chief of Staff."
In her first stint at the Trump EPA, Gunasekara played a key role in air and climate policy decisions. She has touted the part she played in President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Like several other political appointees at the agency, she is a former aide to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), one of the Senate’s foremost climate science skeptics. She famously handed the senator a snowball during a speech on the Senate floor questioning climate change in 2015 (Greenwire, Feb. 22, 2019).
Gunasekara would replace Jackson, another former Inhofe aide, in the agency’s chief of staff role. Jackson is leaving EPA next week to join the National Mining Association.