Same Old Revolving Door for Industry Lobbying

Surprise. Brad Moore, the former commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has been officially hired as a lobbyist for the PolyMet Mining Company. Between his stint at the MPCA and his current sinecure, Moore worked in a governmental affairs job for Barr Engineering, the consulting firm pushing for approval of the PolyMet copper sulfide mine. [Note: Barr Engineering prepared the environmental impact statement for the PolyMet project given a failing grade by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year. EPAGivesPolyMetEISFailingGrade(Commentary)] In each of his three recent jobs Moore has served to promote the interests of the PolyMet Mining Company.

The most obvious concern is that this “revolving door” may encourage government officials to support the interests of their future employers, rather than the interests of the public and future generations. More profoundly, the question must be raised whether Moore’s various pro-industry jobs are merely lateral moves within a unitary enterprise.

Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist leader of the mid-20th century explained, “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

Democracy is the brave thought that government represents people who may not have access to power (or the offer of remunerative jobs). Environmentalism is the even braver thought that regulators are hired not to issue permits sanctioning the destruction of natural resources, but to counterbalance corporate power and protect clean water, clean air and the legacy of generations.

Hope is the blade of grass between cinder blocks. We must hope that this Administration will be different.

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