In a close-run vote on Thursday, the United States Senate confirmed outspoken climate change sceptic, Jeffery Bossert Clark, as the nation’s assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources.
The Hill reported that Senators voted 52-45 in favor of Clark’s confirmation. The nomination drew the support from all the Republicans in the Senate, as well as Joe Manchin and Claire McCaskill from the Democrats.
In his professional life, Clark previously represented BP in its crusade to escape accountability for its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Ahead of his confirmation hearing, Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, lauded Clark’s credentials. He echoed Clark’s former colleagues who had described the attorney as “one of the most capable lawyers with whom they’ve ever worked”.
Clark is also a known climate change sceptic. According to The Hill, he has previously denounced climate change science as “contestable”.
In his new role as assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources, Clark will be responsible for enforcing legislation designed to protect the environment. He will be among those tasked with holding polluters to account.
The confirmation is the latest move in the Republican strategy to populate public office with climate change sceptics. In April, The Hill reported that President Trump appointed well-known climate change sceptic, William Happer, to his National Security Council (NSC). Jeff Sessions, the Trump-appointed attorney general, has also attacked the science surrounding climate change and ridiculed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions according to Scientific American.
Environmental groups have been quick to denounce Clark’s confirmation. Ken Cook, President of the Environmental Working Group, issued a statement calling Clark’s nomination “good news for polluters”.
The confirmation comes at a delicate time. At the beginning of the week, the New York Times reported that the UN scientific panel released a landmark report on climate change. The report published findings that indicate the earth could be in a state of crisis as early as 2040.
Avoiding the worst-case scenarios of climate change will take a mammoth effort from legislators across the globe. The appointment of sceptics to the country’s most important environmental roles is a step closer to the brink, not just for the US, but the entire planet.
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Oliver is a UK-born freelance writer and journalist based in Boston. He is a self-confessed politics junkie with a passion for foreign and environmental policy. His work has been featured on Open Democracy, International Policy Digest, and the London Economic. He was a regular contributor for ASEAN Today.