Biden to nominate former D.C. solicitor general to lead environmental division

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden said on Monday he intends to nominate Todd Kim, former solicitor general for the District of Columbia, to lead the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division as its assistant attorney general.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past the U.S. Department of Justice Building, in Washington, U.S., December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Kim would become the department’s top attorney overseeing its criminal and civil cases to enforce the nation’s environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

The position was held during the Trump administration by Jeffrey Bossert Clark, an attorney who once represented oil company BP Plc in the aftermath of the company’s 2010 drilling rig explosion.

Clark is now at the heart of a probe by the department’s inspector general over whether he improperly sought to alter the 2020 election results by plotting with former President Donald Trump in a failed attempt to oust then-acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen so that he could launch an investigation of alleged voter fraud in Georgia.

Kim will likely face pressure from progressives to step up the Justice Department’s enforcement of environmental laws, an area that activists say was lax during the Trump administration.

He previously worked as an appellate attorney within the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and has also been a partner with the law firm Reed Smith LLP.

Kim recently started working as deputy general counsel for litigation, regulation and enforcement at the U.S. Department of Energy, and he is now the fifth person nominated by Biden to serve in a top role at the Justice Department.

Attorney General Merrick Garland was sworn into his new post last Thursday, while the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote soon on the nominations of Lisa Monaco to serve as deputy attorney general and Vanita Gupta as associate attorney general, the No. 2 and No. 3 jobs, respectively.

Kristen Clarke, Biden’s pick to lead the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, has yet to have her confirmation hearing.

Biden has not yet nominated people to other top Justice Department posts, such as solicitor general or the heads of the criminal and civil divisions.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Peter Cooney