Oregon’s attorney general office hired a lawyer Friday with a long history of anti-oil activism and a deep connection to the environmental group former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created in 2017.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum appointed former Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick as a legal fellow to the AG office. Novick will work as an Oregon special assistant attorney general on cases related to climate change and the environment.
“Steve comes with an incredible background in environmental work. For nearly 10 years, he worked as a Trial and Senior Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, representing the EPA in some of the most complex environmental litigation cases,” Rosenblum said in a press statement.
Novick voted to divest Portland from the top 200 fossil fuel companies in 2015 during his time as the Portland City commissioner, though he said at the time, “This is obviously just one of the steps we need to take.” He ultimately lost his re-election in 2016, becoming “the first sitting commissioner to lose re-election in 24 years.”
The Oregon Department of Justice will oversee Novick’s position, but New York University’s State Impact Center will fund his efforts. The center was started in August 2017 with the plan to escalate attacks against President Donald Trump’s decision to eliminate several of his predecessor’s climate regulations.
New York University used a $6 million grant from Bloomberg to create Bloomberg Philanthropies and shoveled millions of dollars into various environmental concerns targeting coal production.
The new center will provide AGs with legal services and the money required to pay down court costs on renewable energy, climate and environmental issues. It will also sponsor 10 attorneys on fellowships who will work inside different attorneys general offices. (RELATED: NYU Creates Academy Helping AGs Crusade Against Trump’s Reg Rollback)
NYU’s center is open to all AGs, but Democrats who have shown a willingness to drown the president in lawsuits over his climate policies will get precedent. Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, for instance, spearheaded more than half a dozen lawsuits defending the Obama-era rule limiting greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants.
He engaged in a year-long investigation into ExxonMobil’s climate record, which managed to rope in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Schneiderman has since resigned following allegations he physically assaulted several women over the course of several years.