On Thursday, the Senate voted mostly along partisan lines to confirm a climate change denier and former industry lawyer to the top spot at the Department of Justice’s environmental division, according to The Hill.
> Lawmakers voted 52 to 45 to confirm Jeffrey Bossert Clark to be the assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), both running for reelection GOP states, joined all Republicans present in voting to confirm Clark.
> Clark is and attorney at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, where he has represented numerous industry clients, including oil giant BP in its efforts to fight certain claims from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and spill, and the Chamber of Commerce. He’s said climate change science is “contestable.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions sang Clark’s praises in a statement welcoming him to the department, saying Clark is “one of the leading environmental litigators in the country, and has been counsel in many of the most significant environmental and natural resource cases of the past two decades, both here at the Department of Justice and in private practice.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) similarly praised Clark’s qualifications prior to Thursday’s vote:
> “Mr. Clark’s legal colleagues describe him as one of the most capable lawyers with whom they’ve ever worked, and no fewer than seven former assistant attorneys general for the environment and natural resources division tell the Senate that his well-rounded background and prior experience in the division make him an excellent choice for this position,” he said.
Democrats, however, warned that Clark’s history — which includes a time as deputy assistant attorney general in the same DOJ division — show he would further the Trump administration’s pro-industry stance toward the environment, to the detriment of public health and climate change progress.
> “He is a favorite of the Federalist Society, having chaired that group's environmental law and practice group. But his nomination is strongly opposed by groups that care about protecting the environment,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
> “He is exactly the wrong person to be in this job of enforcing regulations to protect our environment.”