EPA CONFLICT OF INTEREST WATCH
Former Industry Lobbyists and Representatives Hired to Run Trump’s EPA
Although as a candidate, Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” and limit the influence of lobbyists over the federal government, his administration has done the opposite. Over the last two years, the Trump Administration has hired at least 164 former lobbyists in a wide variety of influential positions, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.
At the EPA, nearly half of the political appointees hired by the Trump Administration have had strong ties to industries regulated by the agency industry, according to research by the Associated Press. About a third of these EPA appointees – including the current acting administrator – formerly worked as registered lobbyists or lawyers for fossil fuel companies, chemical manufacturers, or other corporate clients.
Below is a partial list of former industry lobbyists and representatives picked to run EPA by the Trump Administration that have potential or real conflicts. The Administration has been pursuing a de-regulatory agenda that benefits many of these same industries by rolling back air and water pollution control regulations. This inverts the purpose of the agency, which is to protect the environment and public health, not industry profits. In the list below, links are provided to source documents.
Andrew Wheeler, Acting EPA Administrator. Formerly earned $741,000 annually as an attorney with Faegre Baker Daniels, a law and lobbying firm that represented several polluting industries, including the coal company Murray Energy. In March 2017, Wheeler attended a meeting between Murray’s chief executive, Robert Murray, and Trump’s Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, during which the coal magnate handed Perry a written roadmap for rolling back regulations on the coal industry, which the administration has largely followed. Other former lobbying clients of Wheeler’s that are regulated by EPA include a uranium mining company, Energy Fuels Resources; XCEL Energy, a public utility; Bear Head LNG Corp., a liquid natural gas export company; the Celanese Corp., a Texas-based chemical manufacturing company; International Paper; and Archer Daniels Midland. His financial disclosure form can be found here.
Susan Bodine, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance. Formerly worked for Barnes & Thornburg, a law and lobbying firm that represented American Forest & Paper Association. Her financial disclosure form can be found here.
William Wehrum, EPA Assistant Administrator for Air. Formerly earned $2.1 million per year as a partner for the law firm of Hunton & Williams, which lobbied for chemical manufacturers, refineries, oil drillers, gravel mining companies, and coal-burning power plants, as well as the American Petroleum Institute and the Utility Air Regulatory Group. His clients included Koch Industries, Kinder Morgan, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturing Association, and American Forest and Paper Association. His financial disclosure form can be found here.
Trey Glenn, EPA Regional Administrator for Region 4 (based in Atlanta). He resigned on Nov. 19, 2018, following an ethics scandal about his lobbying for a coal company. Glenn is a one-time administrator of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management who then worked as a $250-per-hour consultant and advocate for an Alabama-based coal company called Drummond Co., which was trying to avoid requirements for cleaning up a contaminated site in the Birmingham area. The Alabama Ethics Commission on Nov. 13, 2018, indicted Glenn for violating state ethics laws by pushing his former employees at the state environmental agency not to add the Birmingham site to the National Priority List for “Superfund” cleanup, which could have cost Drummond millions of dollars in cleanup costs.
Erik Baptist, EPA Senior Deputy General Counsel. Formerly earned $297,267 annually as an attorney with the American Petroleum Institute. His wife works for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. His financial disclosure form can be found here.
Mandy Gunasekara, EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator. Formerly worked as a lobbyist and Senior Director for Federal Affairs for the National Association of Chemical Distributors. Her financial disclosure form can be found here.
Doug Benevento, EPA Regional Administrator for Region 8 (based in Colorado). Formerly earned $468,760 annually as Director of Excel Energy, an electric utility company. He also worked for Greenberg Traurig LLP, a lobbying firm that represented Colorado Interstate Gas and the El Paso Corp., a natural gas company. His financial disclosure information can be found here.
Patrick Davis, EPA Senior Advisor for Public Engagement. Formerly earned $163,000 per year running Patrick Davis Consulting, which lobbied for Directed Energy Solutions, a defense contracting firm that develops lasers the military. His financial disclosure form can be found here.
Troy Lyons, EPA Associate Administrator for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations. Formerly earned $120,000 annually as a federal lobbyist for the oil company BP and $140,000 annually lobbying or the Hess Corp., an oil and gas company. His financial disclosure information can be found here.
Christian Rodrick, EPA Special Assistant to Deputy. Formerly worked for Innovative Federal Strategies, a lobbying firm that represented the Inland Empire Utilities Agency. His financial disclosure form can be found here.
Steven Cook, Deputy Assistant Administrator in EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management and chair of the EPA Superfund Task Force. He formerly worked as senior corporate counsel at LyondellBasell Industries, a large chemical, plastics and refining companies that the EPA has suspected of contaminating the ground in dozens of locations.
David Dunlap, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Office of Research and Development. Formerly chemical engineer for Koch Industries, a major petroleum refiner and chemical company.
Elizabeth “Tate” Bennett, Associate Administrator for the EPA Office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education. Formerly, she lobbied against carbon dioxide pollution control regulations for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Her financial information can be found here.
Dennis Lee Forsgren, Jr., EPA’s Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water. Formerly earned $201,750 annually as an attorney with HBW Resources, a lobbying and consulting firm that represents electric utilities, oil and gas companies, mining firms, and others. Before that, Forsgren worked for GE (2011-12), Ensco (2008-09), Exxon (2005-08), Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (2005-08) Nossaman LLP. His financial disclosure form can be found here.
Patrick Traylor, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Formerly earned $1.1 million per year as an attorney with the law and lobbying firm of Hogan Lovells US LLP, and represented Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling, Venture Global LNG, C. Reiss Coal Company, Koch Minerals, American Petroleum Institute, NRG energy, U.S. Steel and other companies. His financial disclosure form can be found here.