The State Department of Environmental and Natural Resources has hired yet another lawyer who's former employer was Duke Energy.
From an editorial appearing in several NC papers this morning:
"As state environmental officials compose new regulations for Duke Energy's cleanup of its coal-ash dumps, the Department of Environmental and Natural Resource has been receiving counsel from an attorney with considerable expertise on the issue.
Craig Bromby previously worked in the same specialized legal area before. His client was Duke Energy.
This isn't the first time DENR has hired a former Duke lawyer to handle issues that would affect the energy company. Mark Calloway helped the agency respond to federal subpoenas after a major coal-ash spill. But his earlier work for Duke was primarily in accounting and didn't focus on environmental issues.
In Bromby's case, he has counseled Duke and the state on environmental issues. DENR officials said they don't let him work directly on coal-ash per se. He's advising them only on protecting groundwater, which is at risk of coal-ash contamination.
What's the difference? Such hair-splitting seems like an effort to overlook legitimate objections.
Bromby said he doesn't see any ethical conflict between his current and former job. But he adds that if he did discern a conflict, it's Duke who should complain.
"If there was an issue with it, I would think it would be more Duke Energy's issue because I'm now here, as opposed to anyone else's issue because I previously did work for Duke," Bromby said.
That's a good point. But for some reason, Dukes doesn't seem to be concerned. The rules say Bromby should have obtained a waiver from Duke before doing Duke-related work for DENR. A Duke spokesperson says he didn't get a waiver. But the company hasn't objected either.
Amid the logical somersaults of these denials is the obvious - it just doesn't look good. In theory lawyers are bound only to their current clients and not loyal to previous customers. But anyone can become subject to emotional attachments, sometimes without any financial inducement.
With Duke planning coal-ash disposal sites in Lee and Chatham counties, having state oversight that protects residents' interest rather than those of Duke is essential. Given that Gov. Pat McCrory is also a former Duke lawyer, one would expect his agencies to go out of their way to avoid all appearance of collusion.
Bromby might be capable of giving DENR excellent advice and compartmentalizing his work for each customer so that no conflict arises. But we don't know that. He's the last person the state should have hired for this task."
Read more here: http://www.newsobser...l#storylink=cpy