President Donald Trump announced his choice Tuesday (June 6) for the Department of Justice’s assistant attorney general of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. He decided on nominee Jeffrey Bossert Clark, a partner of law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP, who requires Senate confirmation for his position.
The White House described Clark as a “complex trial and appellate litigator with especially deep experience in administrative law, cutting across dozens of statues and numerous agencies.”
This position won’t be a new endeavor for Clark. He held a similar position from 2001 to 2005 under former President George W. Bush, when he was deputy assistant attorney general for the same division. During that time, Clark oversaw 50 lawyers and staff with the Appellate Section, which handles appeals cases within the division, and 25 lawyers and staff with the Indian Resources Section. The Indian Resources Section oversees legal action regarding Indian land, such as treaty hunting and fishing rights.
However, Clark’s most notable case, which is making environmentalists uneasy, revolves around the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill—the worst oil spill in the country’s history. It devastated coastal fishing communities, some of which just recently settled litigation with the oil giant. With the Justice Department, he is expected to defend the environment, but, here, he represented BP as part of a larger legal team.
His track record includes cases challenging the EPA and federal attempts to regulate carbon emissions. Clark has written critically about climate change, in general, for The Federalist Society, a law publication that provides a space for “conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order,” per its website. In this position, if Clark is confirmed, he will be expected to defend the EPA.
“He has a long history of opposing climate action for corporate and ideological clients,” said David Doniger, who heads the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, to InsideClimate News. “I would expect that history would require him to recuse himself from such cases as over the Clean Power Plan, where he filed an amicus brief against the rule.”
Clark’s Senate confirmation hearing has not yet been scheduled.