It’s a mixed bag of bureaucrats and industry allies.
The confirmations, which received mixed reaction from environmentalists, fill long-vacant roles and save the White House from having to restart the nomination process with a newly sworn-in 116th Congress.
The nominees, among more than 60 administration officials confirmed in the 11th-hour voice vote, include those picked for executive posts at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Council on Environmental Quality.
At EPA, Alexandra Dunn was confirmed to lead the agency’s chemical office. Dunn previously served as the EPA administrator for Region 1 in Boston. She won praise overseeing the New England region as an “apolitical” bureaucrat who The Boston Globe described in an August profile as gaining “respect for protecting the environment.”
The position as assistant administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention was left open since 2017, when former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt nominated Michael Dourson, whose consultancy InsideClimate News described in 2014 as the “one-stop science shop” favored by the chemical and tobacco industries. Dourson dropped out as Republican support for his nomination waned.
The other EPA nominee ― the Senate’s final confirmation, just minutes before adjourning ― faced more intense scrutiny from environmentalists and public health advocates. William Charles “Chad” McIntosh, Trump’s pick for the EPA’s Office of International and Tribal Affairs, came under fire in March when HuffPost reported on his 19-year career as the head of Ford Motor Co.’s environmental compliance and policy divisions.
During his tenure at Ford, degreasing chemicals spilled at a manufacturing plant in Livonia, Michigan, and broke down into vinyl chloride ― linked to cancers of the liver, brain, lungs, lymph nodes and blood ― and tainted the local groundwater
“You can’t ignore these kinds of toxic chemicals in such an enormous quantity on your property, so whoever was in charge of the environmental state of affairs at this plant did not do his job,” Shawn Collins, an attorney representing homeowners whose groundwater was affected, told HuffPost in March. “That’s McIntosh.”
Among the most controversial nominees was Daniel Simmons, a former fossil fuel lobbyist who questioned climate science, to lead the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. After the White House nominated him to the post in June, Simmons backtracked on some of his past criticisms of renewable energy, insisting he “likes” zero-emissions energy sources. But, as Utility Dive reported, he previously served as the vice president of policy at the Institute for Energy Research, a coal- and oil-backed think tank, and for the American Energy Alliance, its lobbying arm. The latter organization called for the abolition of the office Simmons will now oversee as recently as 2015.