Obama nominates Superfund polluter lawyer to run DOJ environment division
Cross-posted from Wonk Room.
President Barack Obama has nominated a lawyer for the nation’s largest toxic polluters to run the enforcement of the nation’s environmental laws. On Tuesday, Obama “announced his intent to nominate” Ignacia S. Moreno to be Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the Department of Justice. Moreno, general counsel for that department during the Clinton administration, is now the corporate environmental counsel for General Electric, “America’s #1 Superfund Polluter“:
Number five in the Fortune 500 with revenues of $89.3 billion and earnings of $8.2 billion in 1997, General Electric has been a leader in the effort to roll back the Superfund law and stave off any requirements for full cleanup and restoration of sites they helped create.
This February, General Electric lost an eight-year battle to “prove that parts of the Superfund law are unconstitutional.” One of the 600-person DOJ environmental division’s “primary responsibilities is to enforce federal civil and criminal environmental laws such as” the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Superfund.
Before General Electric, Moreno worked as a corporate attorney at Spriggs and Hollingsworth. Moreno’s name is found in the Westlaw database as an attorney defending General Motors in another Superfund case, the GM Powertrain facility in Bedford, Indiana:
Historical uses and management of PCB containing hydraulic oils and PCB impacted materials has contaminated on-site areas as well as the sediment and floodplain soil within Bailey’s Branch and the Pleasant Run Creek watershed.
Although General Motors entered into an agreement in 2001 with the EPA to clean up the site, a number of local residents whose land has been contaminated by polychorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have sued for damages in Allgood v. GM (now Barlow v. GM), in a contentious and caustic dispute over cleanup, monitoring, and lost property values.
During the Clinton administration, Moreno was involved in another controversial case, unsuccessfully defending the Secretary of Commerce’s decision to weaken the dolphin-safe tuna standard. In Brower v. Daley, Earth Island Institute, The Humane Society of the United States, and other individuals and organizations brought suit against the United States government for actions that were “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law,” winning their case in 2000.
UPDATE: Clean Air Watch president and regular Wonk Room contributor Frank O’Donnell expressed his concerns to Greenwire:
The question is: Is she the best possible person for that job, given the sensitive nature of that position? It seems as if she has spent maybe more time defending polluters than prosecuting them.