Alabama Sen. Doug Jones was Attorney for Company that Knowingly Dumped Pollutants in River

Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), who champions environmental protection as a major priority on his website, defended a company during his career as an attorney that intentionally polluted a river with dirty discharge from its pipe making plant.

“More than 60 witnesses, including former plant workers, testified that McWane and its managers gave the orders for tainted water to be pumped into storm drains and into the creek,” according to “The witnesses said they were told to get rid of the water, which was tainted during the pipe-making process, because it threatened to halt production. Environmental engineers said the water was filled with elevated levels of zinc, lead, oil and grease.”

Jones worked for Whatley Drake LLC in Birmingham, Al.

The company, McWane Inc., and three of its top executives were convicted of 20 felonies and assessed an $8 million fine under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), of “conspiring to knowingly discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States and of a variety of substantive violations of the Act. ” They were also convicted of making false statements to the EPA.

The false statements charges were overturned on appeal, and a new trial was ordered for the CWA violation, but McWane eventually pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $4 million fine. The pollution case was one of the largest ever litigated in Alabama history.

Still, Jones is considered a “hardliner” on environmental protection.

“Clean air and clean water are not controversial,” his campaign site says. “They are essential to our health, our prosperity, and our quality of life. We should be encouraging investment in renewable energy and conservation as ways to create new jobs and make ourselves energy independent.”

Avowedly leftist ThinkProgress swooned over Jones’ supposed love of the environment in a piece titled “Alabama’s newest Senator isn’t afraid to take a strong stance on science and clean energy.

“And after his surprise win on Tuesday, Jones will be in a position to deliver greater federal funding to protect Alabama’s environment,” the piece said. “At the national level, Jones’ election to the Senate gives the Democrats another weapon to fight Trump’s anti-environment agenda.”

“Jones ran a campaign that highlighted environmental issues. He wasn’t at all guarded about talking about the environment,” Matthew Gravatt, associate director of federal and administrative advocacy for the Sierra Club, told ThinkProgress.

Jones can talk all he wants, but when the rubber met the road during his career as an attorney, he followed the money, not Democrat talking points.


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