Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Trump names former coal lobbyist to lead division that oversees environmental crimes

Jeffery H. Wood
President Trump last week named former coal lobbyist Jeffery H. Wood acting assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice division that oversees environmental crimes, Lee Fang reports for The Intercept, an online publication launched by First Look Media. Wood, who was a lobbyist for Southern Co.—which generates 33 percent of its power from coal—was named a Trump adviser on energy policy in September, reports Politico. He also was a former aide for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Trump's nominee for attorney general.

"Trump has yet to nominate anyone to hold the assistant attorney general job on a permanent basis, but for the time being Wood will be overseeing the division that enforces civil and criminal environmental laws to reduce pollutants discharged into the air, water and land, and brings cases to enable the clean-up of contaminated waste sites," Fang writes. "The division has previously prosecuted coal firms and utilities, including a 2015 case against Duke Energy, which pled guilty for spilling coal ash into the Dan River in North Carolina. The division also led a major initiative against companies for illegally operating coal-fire power plants, winning settlements that have forced firms to install pollution controls to reduce emissions."

"Lobbying disclosures show that Wood, formerly a partner with the Alabama law and lobbying firm Balch & Bingham, worked to influence the licensing of nuclear power plants, the Clean Air Act and climate change issues on behalf of Southern Co.," Fang writes. "His de-registration forms were filed on Jan. 17, three days before taking the Justice Department position potentially overseeing his former client."

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