Notes from the Kakistocracy: Foxes in the environmental hen house

It's much worse than you thought it was:

David Dunlap previously served as a policy chief at Koch Industries, focusing on water and chemical management. Earlier, he served as a vice president of the Chlorine Institute, which represents producers and distributors.

Mr. Dunlap is the top political deputy overseeing E.P.A.’s pollution and toxic chemical research at the Office of Research and Development. Mr. Dunlap helps to review chemicals to determine if they require new restrictions. He has recused himself from work on one particular chemical, formaldehyde, because Koch Industries is a major formaldehyde producer.

The Trump administration's absurd excuse for placing these former lobbyists and industry employees in such critical positions is that, "they know what regulations are harmful to the industry." Protecting the environment and the citizenry is not even on Trump's radar, much less a priority. Here's more of them, if you can stomach it:

David Ross represented industry clients like the American Farm Bureau against E.P.A. water regulations before entering state government. As an assistant attorney general of Wyoming, he challenged the E.P.A.’s clean water rule.

Mr. Ross has led efforts to restrict the scope of the Clean Water Act and to weaken an Obama-era clean water regulation known as the Waters of the United States.

David Fischer held several positions over a 10-year span at the American Chemistry Council, including serving as senior director in the chemical products and technology division. He later joined a public relations firm.

Mr. Fischer has stepped into Ms. Beck’s previous E.P.A. role during her temporary move to the White House, and is now a top policy adviser on chemical regulations.

Peter Wright spent 19 years as an attorney at Dow, one of the world’s largest chemical makers. He fought to lessen Dow’s responsibility to contribute to the cleanup of a toxic waste site in Midland, Mich.

Mr. Wright oversees the E.P.A.’s ongoing cleanup of thousands of Superfund sites, as well as emergency response and waste programs.

As a lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler represented an electric utility, a uranium producer and, most significantly, a coal magnate who paid Mr. Wheeler’s former lobbying firm more than $2.7 million over eight years to loosen restrictions on coal companies.

Mr. Wheeler’s job is to enforce clean air and water laws. During his tenure, he has rolled back regulations and made it easier for highly polluting coal plants to keep operating.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kinda wish we had Scott Pruitt back. He was pretty bad, but an angel compared to Wheeler. Here are a few in the Department of Interior:

David Bernhardt (What's with the Davids?) is a former lobbyist for oil and gas companies including Halliburton, Cobalt International Energy, Samson Resources, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

Mr. Bernhardt leads the Interior Department, overseeing millions of acres of federal land and waterways. Under his tenure, the agency has weakened protections for endangered species, rolled back regulations on methane fought by the oil and gas industries, and weakened protections for fish in order to divert water to California farmers.

Douglas Domenech was the director of the Fueling Freedom Project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a Koch-funded group that promotes fossil fuels. Before that, he was the secretary of natural resources in Virginia, where he supported oil drilling off the state’s coastline.

Mr. Domenech has been closely involved in most major policy decisions at the Interior Department, including scaling back national monuments in Utah and reversing endangered species protections.

William Pendley has long been critical of public lands and the environmental movement, and has compared government regulation to tyranny. He once compared climate change to a “unicorn” because “neither exists.”

Mr. Pendley is in charge of all federal public land across 12 western states, and decides whether or not to grant leases to fossil fuel companies for oil exploration and mining. He currently is overseeing the move of the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters to Colorado.

Dr. James Reilly worked for 15 years as the chief geologist for Enserch Exploration, an oil and gas company based in Dallas. He also worked at NASA and was an astronaut for 13 years.

Dr. Reilly has ordered that scientific assessments from the U.S. Geological Survey focus on climate models that project the effects of climate change through 2040, rather than 2100, which had been the previous standard. Federal scientists say that would be misleading because the major impacts of current emissions may be felt after 2040.

Daniel Jorjani served in the Interior Department under George W. Bush, and then worked for three different groups connected to the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, who have spent millions opposing efforts to fight climate change.

Mr. Jorjani provides legal advice and oversees legal opinions regarding all Interior Department regulatory policies, including the decision to end criminal penalties for the “incidental” killing of migratory birds in the course of business activity.

You get the message. There are so many conflicts of interest in the Trump administration it would be easier just to search for those without conflicts. Then again, those folks may be like unicorns...



Breaking my own rule

by quoting a substantial amount of an article. If you're not aware, the "fair use" doctrine in copyright law grants the use of "brief excerpts" by a second party (you or me) when analyzing or commenting on a story.

But I also know that many reading this do not subscribe to the New York Times, and your ability to click that link and get more information is limited. It's a balancing act, but it can also be a slippery slope.