In 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Todd Kim to be a judge on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, but his appointment never happened, a casualty of the Republican Senate’s no-progress stance on anything coming from Obama’s White House. Now, he’s been given a new presidential tap.
On March 15, 2021, the White House announced that Kim is President Biden’s nomination to lead the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department as an assistant attorney general. He has been working for the Biden administration since January, as deputy general counsel for the Department of Energy.
President Biden has an aggressive agenda regarding industrial regulation and environmental law enforcement, set on protecting America’s natural resources for the common good. If confirmed for the DOJ post, Kim’s role in that agenda will be critical. The ENRD handles those regulations, along with tribal law, eminent domain, and other similar laws. The DOJ is also exploring adding an office of environmental justice to the ENRD, which would address the relationships between inequality and environmental law. This too would fall under Kim’s new jurisdiction.
Todd Kim’s curriculum vitae is impressive, and certainly on paper appears to qualify him for the position. A law graduate from Harvard Law School, he clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C., worked for seven years as an appellate lawyer to the ENRD, and was the District of Columbia’s first solicitor general.
John Cruden, who previously held the position Kim has been nominated for, described Kim as “a superb professional in all respects.” He has a reputation of being well-respected and well-liked among environmentalists as well as other governmental attorneys and officials.
“Todd is a fabulous lawyer who has a tremendous commitment to government service,” said Earthjustice senior vice president Sam Sankar, who worked with Kim in recent years in the Justice Department. “I think he will be the right guy to help heal the department and focus its attention on environmental and climate justice.”
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