Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. Coast Guard crews work to put out a fire during the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. (Photo: U.S. Coast Guard)

'The Guy Who Defended Company That Caused Worst Oil Spill in US History' Just Confirmed to Head DOJ's Environmental Division

"Clark's blatant hostility toward environmental protection is good news for polluters, but awful news for the rest of us."

Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) joined with Senate Republicans on Thursday to confirm Jeffrey Bossert Clark—a climate-denying former attorney for the fossil fuel industry—to lead the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.

"The guy who defended the company that caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history is not likely to aggressively go after corporate environmental outlaws."
—Ken Cook, EWG

"Clark's blatant hostility toward environmental protection is good news for polluters, but awful news for the rest of us," warned Environmental Working Group (EWG) president Ken Cook. "The guy who defended the company that caused the worst oil spill in U.S. history is not likely to aggressively go after corporate environmental outlaws."

The new assistant attorney general's nomination has been stalled for more than a year due to concerns about his history as a lawyer. Clark has represented B.P. in lawsuits that stemmed from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in suits attacking the U.S. government's authority to craft regulations that aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In his new post, as E&E News reports, "Clark will lead the federal government's litigation positions in cases dealing with pollution control laws, public lands, natural resources, wildlife, and tribal issues." Jeffrey Wood—who worked for Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he was a senator for Alabama—has been running the division during the lengthy confirmation process.

"[Clark] 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," Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told The Hill. "He is exactly the wrong person to be in this job of enforcing regulations to protect our environment."

Although Clark's challenges to climate science and U.S. environmental regulations have raised alarm among Democratic lawmakers and environmental advocates, this won't be his first time working in the division. During the George W. Bush administration, Clark spent four years as the division's deputy assistant attorney general, according to InsideClimate News.

Critics warn that Clark will continue the Trump administration's pro-polluter agenda, which has cast aside scientific research and public health concerns to serve the the interests of the fossil fuel and chemical industries.

"Clark's appointment is a doubling down on the administration's strategy of retreating from the future and branding America as a petrostate while China steals our global energy, economic, and moral leadership, and the rest of the world moves forward," concluded environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Rich Nations' Vaccine Pledge Includes Just 613 Million New Doses—Well Short of Promised 1 Billion

"A single factory could produce this number in a year if you waived patents."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Elephant in the Room' Is Senate Democrats Blocking Their Own Party's Agenda

"The argument that we need to make here," the New York Democrat said of bipartisanship's dead end, "is that it's worth going it alone if we can do more for working people in this country."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


On Climate and Covid-19 Emergencies, G7 Judged a 'Colossal Failure' for All the World to See

"Never in the history of the G7 has there been a bigger gap between their actions and the needs of the world. In the face of these challenges the G7 have chosen to cook the books on vaccines and continue to cook the planet."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


NYC Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams Rebuked for 'Dangerous' 400-Students-to-1-Teacher Theory

"Defunding schools to the point that we have a 400:1 student-to-teacher ratio so we can bankroll another huge expansion in an already-multibillion dollar police budget," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, "is how you build a school-to-prison pipeline."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·


Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, "will go directly into the pockets" of Big Pharma shareholders.

Jon Queally, staff writer ·