Earth Shakers: The Counter-Enviro Power List

J. Steven Griles: Lobbyist

The former number two at the Interior Department under Gale Norton, Griles, a 57-year-old from Halifax County, Virginia, has moved in and out of government for more than 20 years, becoming a prime example of Washington's revolving-door syndrome. On February 1, just days after leaving his post as deputy secretary of Interior, Griles took a job as a principal at Lundquist, Nethercutt and Griles, a powerful Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm that represents major energy corporations such as BP and Exelon.

Griles first came to the department in 1981 under Interior Secretary James Watt, during the Reagan administration, serving as deputy director for the Office of Surface Mining. In the 1990s, he worked for the D.C.-based energy lobbying firm National Environmental Strategies. In 2001, as deputy secretary, Griles became instrumental in streamlining regulations to speed the approval process for mountaintop-removal coal mining. The practice, which environmentalists and Appalachia residents refer to as "an environmental apocalypse," involves blasting away mountaintops, leaving behind tons of potentially toxic rubble and sludge. Griles also supported a new rule allowing mining companies to dump the debris in nearby waterways; some 1,200 miles of Appalachian streambeds have already been buried by the procedure.

SOUND BITE: "Griles allowed the coal industry to rape the people and the environment of Appalachia," says Judy Bonds, director of the Whitesville, West Virginia-based environmental group Coal River Mountain Watch. "He either thinks we're second-class citizens or he doesn't even know we exist."

NEXT UP: Expect this regulator-turned-industry-power-broker to continue lobbying for the energy business.

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