Earlier this month I highlighted Trump's appointment of a former coal company president whose company had a history of mine safety violations to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Rather than an isolated incident -- this decision appears to be a part of a deliberate policy. Here are some additional appointments I found this week.
Trump appoints Michael L. Dourson as head of EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
From the Associated Press on Wednesday:
President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee chemical safety at the Environmental Protection Agency has for years accepted payments for criticizing studies that raised concerns about the safety of his clients’ products, according to a review of financial records and his published work by The Associated Press. . . .
If confirmed, ethics experts said, Dourson’s past writings and the money paid to him and a nonprofit he founded could represent potential conflicts of interest. . . .
Past corporate clients of Dourson and of a research group he ran include Dow Chemical Co., Koch Industries Inc. and Chevron Corp. His research has also been underwritten by industry trade and lobbying groups representing the makers of plastics, pesticides, processed foods and cigarettes.
And if that’s not reason enough to worry about this appointment:
The American Chemistry Council said he would make an excellent addition at EPA.
(I last wrote about the chemical industry’s lobbying group earlier this month when I discovered that they were the source (and not WVU researchers) for the totally unsubstantiated statistic that a local ethane storage hub would create 100,000 jobs.)
It should also be noted that Dourson has done work in West Virginia. According to EcoWatch:
After the 2014 chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia, the state hired Dourson's company, Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA), to convene and manage a health effects expert panel. TERA then appointed Dourson to chair the panel and act as its only spokesperson. The panel's report failed to disclose that Dourson and TERA had done paid work for both of the companies that produced the chemicals involved in the spill. These conflicts only came to light upon questioning of Dourson by a reporter at the panel's news conference.
Former president of the Ohio Coal Association joins EPA
From Sunday's Columbus Dispatch:
The idea that the former president of the Ohio Coal Association is now lobbying Congress as an official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is not sitting well with environmentalists, Dispatch Washington Bureau Chief Jack Torry notes.
Christian Palich, a former aide to Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, works in the EPA’s congressional relations shop. The post did not require Senate confirmation.
“We’ve gone from an alleged ‘war on coal’ during the (President Barack) Obama era to a war on breathers,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of the Washington-based Clean Air Watch.
Corporate defense lawyer to head Consumer Product Safety Commission
From Quartz earlier today:
Yesterday (Sept. 21), Trump appointed a new head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): Dana Baiocco, a lawyer who built her career on defending companies against lawsuits on asbestos deaths and airline crashes. The commission’s former head, Eliot Kaye, had refused to follow an early White House order to eliminate two regulations for every new one passed, because it “would be counter to our safety mission.” If Trump’s past appointees are an indicator, Baiocco, who starts her new job on Oct. 27, is less likely to have such qualms.
In the course of researching Trump's recent appointments, I stumbled on the following from Politico (via Charlie Pierce). While they don't qualify as foxes guarding hen houses, their incompetence for the appointed job ought to be worth some notice:
President Donald Trump’s appointees to jobs at Agriculture Department headquarters include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant and the owner of a scented-candle company. . . .
Brusky served as a field representative for Trump’s campaign in the battleground state of Ohio, beginning in November 2016, while driving for a trucking company in Hilliard, where he also was a county commissioner. Brusky’s résumé shows he has no experience in cultivating international markets for trade goods, though he notes he has experience “hauling and shipping agricultural commodities. . . .”
O'Hagan graduated in 2016 from the University of Scranton with a major in history and a minor in economics. But his résumé lists only one example of work experience prior to joining the Trump campaign in January 2016 — employment as a cabana attendant at the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, while in school. . . .
Trump campaign alum Tim Page, a 2016 graduate of Appalachian State University, is now at the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency that helps farmers, ranchers and forest managers employ conservation practices. Page's résumé indicates that he owns Cutting Edge LLC, a landscaping service in Connelly Springs, North Carolina.