By Denise Tessier
Other than familiarity with his famous father’s name, Pete Domenici Jr. is relatively unknown to the public. So for many, their first introduction to the son of New Mexico’s long-time U.S. Senator is news reports calling him an “environmental lawyer.”
That’s exactly how he’s described in the Albuquerque Journal’s story Monday, Jan. 18, “Domenici Jr. Announces Bid:”
The younger Domenici, an Albuquerque environmental lawyer, has never sought an elected office before.
In my book, an environmental lawyer is one who works to protect the interests of those who work to protect the environment.
The younger Domenici, however, works for the other side. In 2001, when a couple of oil and ranch families calling themselves Gandy Marley, Inc., proposed putting in the state’s first hazardous waste disposal site between Tatum and Roswell, Domenici was the lawyer protecting their interests – not those of the neighbors concerned about the potential health impacts. As Kristen Davenport of The New Mexican wrote at the time:
The site, called Triassic Park for the Triassic-era clay that lines the basin, would accept half a million cubic yards a year of 491 hazardous materials such as arsenic, lead, mercury or pesticide residue.
. . . Fewer than 15 families live within a 10-mile radius of the proposed Triassic Park. The site is so isolated, and water so scarce, that Gandy Marley, Inc., says water will have to be shipped in from miles away. The company plans to use up to 50,000 gallons of water a day to keep down dust (and keep contaminants from going airborne). Six to eight trucks a day will rumble over those country roads just to bring water. According to the application, another five or six trucks a day will arrive with contaminated waste to be buried or put into evaporation ponds.
. . . The company has hired attorney Pete Domenici Jr., son of New Mexico’s longtime Republican senator, to represent its interests surrounding Triassic Park.
The Journal announcement story Monday additionally said of Domenici Jr. that:
He also stressed his knowledge of the state’s energy economy gained during his more than 20 years of experience as an attorney.
The Web site Democracy for New Mexico has posted a list of other Domenici clients – none of which could be described as environmental.
I’m not sure why the Journal decided to give Domenici Jr. a boilerplate identifier as “environmental lawyer.” Perhaps that’s what he calls himself.
And perhaps a more realistic description will emerge in subsequent coverage. But this first step in introducing Domenici as an environmentalist is misleading.
How might the Journal have described him instead?
How about the way The New York Times handled it Tuesday morning:
Pete Domenici Jr., a lawyer . . .