With all eyes on Donald Trump’s fixation on the Justice Department Russia probe, the administration looks set to put a fossil fuel industry loyalist at the head of the agency’s environmental protection division.
Jeffrey Clark, a longtime lawyer for energy companies and an environmental prosecutor under the George W. Bush administration, will be considered for the job next week by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The selection to lead the Environment and Natural Resources Division saw his nomination delayed on Thursday by Democrats on the panel. The lawmakers exercised their right to “holdover” considerations of executive nominees.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) hit out at Clark, noting that the Republican has not ruled out the possibility of presiding over cases that involve a controversial former client: BP.
“For years, Jeffrey Clark defended BP, and has refused to commit to recusing himself from cases involving this constant former client,” Whitehouse said on Thursday.
According to a committee questionnaire, Clark said he would consult with the Justice Department’s ethics office “and will recuse myself from any matter in which it is required.”
The form also noted that Clark has represented BP in litigation arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, and that this work “has continued to the present time.”
Clark has also worked for the Chamber of Commerce, which Whitehouse described as a “constant mouthpiece of the fossil fuel industry.” On Tuesday, the House passed legislation, backed by the Chamber, which would weaken Clean Air Act rules on ozone emissions.
Whitehouse also hit out at Clark’s views on pollution, saying the lawyer has questioned climate science, and that…