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Foxes appointed to henhouse



At this point, there may be more foxes in the henhouse than chickens.

Even as Phillip Cooney, a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, resigned as chief of the White House’s Council on Economic Quality after allegedly altering government reports on climate change to minimize reported effects of global warming, the Bush administration nominated Granta Y. Nakayama to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement division.

Since 1994, Nakayama has been a lawyer for Kirkland & Ellis LLP, representing, according to Kirkland’s website “companies whose products or services are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” and lobbying on “agency rulemaking and Congressional matters.”

Some of Kirkland’s clients included BP, Dow Chemical, DuPont and W.R. Grace. The latter has raised some controversy.

Grace, for anyone living in a cave since 1999, is the corporation under federal criminal indictment on charges related to its Libby vermiculite mine, where many residents have contracted a deadly lung disease. The Libby mine is now an EPA Superfund site. Kirkland says that in this particular case, his firm only helped Grace with bankruptcy filings, and that Nakayama was not personally involved.

Nakayama’s nomination must first go before the U.S. Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, on which Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., sits.

In the meantime, Baucus has promoted his own fox, nominating Jim Hurst as an advisor to President Bush’s roadless panel. Hurst was a partner in Owens & Hurst, a Eureka lumber mill that closed its doors this year. Hurst blamed the mill’s closing on environmentalist obstructionists. In the mid-’90s, Hurst organized Shovels for Solidarity, a group that delivered 10,000 shovels to Elko, Nevada, where residents were protesting the Forest Service’s refusal to repair a road in the Jarbridge Wilderness, effectively making it a roadless area. Protesters carried Hurst’s shovels through the streets of Elko as a symbol of their intent to repair the road themselves.

According to the Forest Service, the roadless committee “shall be composed of a balanced group of representatives.” It’ll be curious to see which committee member gets the job of balancing Hurst.


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