Monday, June 27, 2005

Bush's EPA Enforcement Nominee Is Lawyer Who Has History Of Siding With Those Needing Enforcing

If anyone needs more proof who President Bush is looking out for -- the American people or (ding, ding, ding) corporate interests -- check out who Bush nominated as chief of enforcement for the Environmental Protection Agency.

A lawyer who defends corporations being targeted by the EPA.

It's the latest example of how bankrupt this administration is in protecting the environment.


Bush on June 23 nominated Granta Nakayama, a partner in the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, to lead the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. The Senate must approve the appointment.

Thomas Skinner, the EPA's acting head of enforcement, told the Baltimore Sun yesterday that Nakayama would have to recuse himself from "a number of other matters that Kirkland & Ellis have handled over the years."

That includes Kirkland's representation of chemical company W.R. Grace & Co., which faces multiple criminal charges alleging the company and seven of its current or former executives knowingly put their workers and the public in danger through exposure to vermiculite ore contaminated with asbestos from the company's mine in Libby, MT.

"This is one of the most significant criminal indictments for environmental crime in our history," Lori Hanson, special agent in charge of the EPA's environmental crime section in Denver, said in February after the charges were announced by the Justice Department.

Since 1999, the EPA and Grace have been at loggerheads over a variety of environmental problems stemming from the company's asbestos-contaminated vermiculite ore from its Montana mine. Several EPA's regional offices are still working with state and federal agencies to determine how many sites in more than 40 states where Grace shipped the tainted ore remain contaminated.


Kirkland & Ellis' Web sites lists a number of other environmental battles it fought, often against the EPA, on behalf of companies that use toxic materials and chemicals.

Yes, this is the man that Bush wants to head enforcement, because, as various EPA lawyers and investigators told the Sun, bringing aboard Nakayama will "have a chilling effect on pursuing investigations and actions involving Grace and any other companies represented by Kirkland & Ellis. "


But why should we expect anything but a pro-industry appointment from Bush?

The administration recently began favoring a questionable pro-industry study -- over an earlier report from its EPA -- about what constitutes a "safe" level of the rocket-fuel chemical perchlorate in drinking water. When the Bush administration relaxed emissions standards, it called it the "Clear Skies Initiative."

Is it any surprise that former EPA head Christie Todd Whitman, who once called President Bush's environmental record "progressive," is now lobbying on behalf of a chemical company that has been subject to multiple EPA enforcement actions?

According to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Bush administration has overseen more than 430 major environmental rollbacks. "This administration has simply stopped enforcing the law — or rewritten the laws to accommodate polluters," Kennedy told Outside magazine.

Nakayama no doubt was picked to continue executing that gameplan.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you have the same level of outrage if he had appointed a plaintiff attorney who had repeatedly sued these corporations to this post? I suspect not.

As an attorney, is it not his job to provide the best defense available for their client? How does a listing of his past clients reflect on whether or not he could be unbiased in this position?

5:22 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

If you consider that Bush Jr, like most Republicans, has deified the alzheimic ghost of Reagan as the Greatest American Ever, is it really surprising that he nominated a James Watt wanna-be?

5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First commenter, which is more deserving of outrage:

a) a lawyer with a history of defending the environment against corporate interests

b) a lawyer with a history of defending corporate interests, at the expense of the environment.

Hey, conservatives have to drink the water and breathe the air, too. I'm still waiting to receive the list of conservatives who will actually drink water laced with 200 parts per billion of perchlorate, as the industry groups want. I'm guessing it's a pretty short list.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If President Bush has been such a disaster for the environment, I suppose you could show that there have been demonstrable increases in air and water pollution.

I get it, it is acceptable for you to have a person in a position so long as their position coincides with your way of thinking.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

You didn't answer my question.

But, in addition to its recent pro-industry opinion on perchlorate in the water, here are a few "clean water" headlines from our "environmentally progressive" president:

1/04 -- Bush administration announces plan to eliminate a 1977 policy that says land within 100 feet of a stream cannot be disturbed by mining activity.

11/03 -- Bush administration announces a policy that allows partially treated sewage to be "blended" with treated sewage and discharged into the nation's waterways during heavy rain and flood events.

9/03 -- Rather than abide by a 9th Circuit Court ruling, the EPA issues guidance that makes it possible to spray pesticides directly into water to control pests or weeds without obtaining a permit, jeopardizing fish and other living organisms in and near the water.

1/03 -- Bush administration announces plans to allow polluters to purchase "pollution credits" from other polluters rather than reducing the pollution they discharge into waterways.

12/02 -- Bush administration issues guideline that weakens rules permitting factory farms to pollute rivers and lakes with animal manure.

8/02 -- EPA plans new rule to weaken a key provision of the Clean Water Act. The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program sets limits for how much of each pollutant a given body of water can hold, then restricts pollution sources to meet those established limits.

5/02 -- The Bush Administration is criticized for weakening guidelines for allowing mining companies to dump waste into America's rivers and streams.

4/01 -- Department of Interior suspended restrictions on personal watercraft or jet-skis at some National Parks and ordered others not to implement new bans. This ignores an earlier EPA study that found that the two-stroke engines used by most personal watercraft discharge 25 percent to 30 percent of their fuel unburned into the water.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

rob of wilmington, del. sends the Jabberers to school! Nice one, rob.

2:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose that despite all of your quotations of policy positions you disagree with, you could also show a demonstrable negative effect to the environment in air and water quality.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous rob of wilmington, del. said...

I don't know what more proof you need. Either you agree those policy moves are bad for water quality, or you don't.

I'm of the mindset that dumping various chemicals, waste, sludge and manure into the water is not a healthy thing. It's something that industry asked Bush to do, and he did it. Nearly every legitimate environmental organization disagreed with the various policy changes made.

You should also know that several of those policies were introduced by Republican presidents Nixon, Ford and the elder Bush. Nixon created the EPA, don't forget.

7:39 PM  

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