Monday, February 17, 2020

Trump Taps a Leading Fossil Fuel Defender as the DOJ's Chief Environmental Enforcer

US President Donald Trump tapped oil industry defender Jeffrey Bossert Clark to lead enforcement of environmental regulations. As head of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division Clark is responsible for overseeing compliance with important environmental protections including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Clark fits in nicely with Trump's long history of choosing dubious legal council.  Trump is an anti-environment crusader whose economic success is premised on tax cuts to the wealthy and the elimination of safeguards designed to protect the health of Americans.

Trump has a long history of legal troubles. He is infamous for his rampant corruption and even his supporters agree that he has difficulty telling the truth.  His most recent personal legal losses include defrauding students of Trump University and misusing funds in his charitable foundation. Unsurprisingly his propensity to run afoul of the law continued during his campaign and culminated in the Mueller Report which indicted a half dozen Trump associates and showed clear evidence of wrong-doing. Trump continued to do what Trump does and this resulted in his impeachment in the House. However, the facts were ignored by Republican Senators who whitewashed the trial in order to cover for this president in one of the most egregious displays of partisanship in the history of the Republic.

The courts have reigned-in many of this administration's environmental assaults.. Since becoming president Trump has lost almost every environmental challenge he has faced. Trump hired Clark in a bid to advance his anti-environmental agenda and minimize his legal losses. Clark is well known for his legal wrangling defending BP and keeping the oil giant from taking responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon fiasco.  Back when the Justice Department was run by people who respected environmental laws, BP was accused of corporate recklessness including willful misconduct, gross neglect and making false statements. Despite being declared "grossly negligent" by a judge, BP paid only a fraction ($20bn) of the $90bn price tag for the explosion and spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Clark is the former chair of the conservative Federalists Society which played a key role in helping to get Trump elected. The appointment of conservative judges at all levels will be one of Trump's lasting legacies. Among other things the Federalist Society opposes government efforts to address climate change and protect the environment.

Giving the job of environmental enforcer to Clark is like making the grand dragon of the KKK the overload of civil rights. His long record of opposing clean air and water does not bode well for the health and safety of Americans. The naming of Clark is but the latest installment of the Trump administration's tendency to put foxes in charge of the hen-house.  Under Trump key jobs in the EPA and Interior as well as other government departments and agencies have been given to fossil fuel executives.

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