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Environmental, Natural Resources, & Energy Law

Lewis & Clark Law School Alums in Leadership Roles at EPA

October 05, 2018

  • Pictured from Left to Right: Lewis & Clark alums working in US EPA Region 10 Office of Regional Counsel Will McLaren, John Matt Moore, Stephanie Ebright, Clarke Thurmon.

Lewis & Clark Law school graduates are engaged in leadership roles in Environmental Protection Agency offices across the country, from Washington D.C. to Seattle.  Their roles range from overseeing hundreds of employees, enforcing federal pollution laws, addressing hazardous waste, and managing clean-ups, to working on environmental justice issues. We recently heard from more than a dozen alums, who detailed their work and efforts (through many administrations) to fight for clean air, land, and water.

 Here are some of the highlights:

 Kevin S. Minoli (’00) served as the Principal Deputy General Counsel & Designated Agency Ethics Official in Washington D.C. and was the top career public servant attorney at EPA. In that role, he had Chief Operating Officer-like responsibilities for the Office of General Counsel and supervises all of the career senior executives. He was responsible for all legal areas associated with running a 14,000 person agency, such as appropriations, grants, employment, information, civil rights, and contracts. He served as the EPA’s Designated Agency Ethics Official and was responsible for operating EPA’s Ethics Program, and from Jan 2017- Jan 2018, he served as EPA’s Acting General Counsel. Kevin started at EPA in the summer of 1999 as a summer honors law clerk having been hired based on an on-campus interview done at Lewis & Clark! 

 K.C. Schefski (’99) is Regional Counsel at Region 8 in Denver, Colorado. Kevin manages the Office of Regional Counsel (ORC) and advises EPA Region 8 on all legal matters related to the environmental laws administered by EPA and Region 8’s day-to-day operations. ORC lawyers provide legal counsel to EPA policy-makers and work with the Department of Justice to represent EPA in court challenges to agency actions.

Kimi Matsumoto (’90) is the Senior Assistant Regional Counsel for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 in Denver. Kimi works on legal issues related to energy development in Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.  She also works on Indian law matters in conjunction with attorneys representing Indian tribes in the region as well as with other Indian law attorneys nationwide.  Kimi’s practice areas also include Environmental Justice, Endangered Species Act and energy-related NEPA matters.

Stephanie Ebright (’03) is Assistant Regional Counsel with EPA Region 10’s Office of Regional Counsel in Seattle. Stephanie is part of the CERCLA unit providing legal counsel to the Region’s Environmental Cleanup Program.  She works mainly with the remedial program on cleanup actions involving the region’s most contaminated sites.

Will McLaren (’14) is an Attorney with the Office of Regional Counsel in Region 10. The bulk of Will’s legal practice at EPA is enforcement work.  “I bring administrative and civil enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska.  I negotiate or litigate these cases on behalf of the EPA and alongside the Department of Justice.  I work with scientists and other experts to secure appropriate injunctive relief and penalties for significant violations of our nation’s environmental laws.  When I am not working on an enforcement action, I am advising other offices on relevant laws and regulations, reviewing Clean Water Act permits, or pitching in on rulemaking initiatives.”

Ben Lammie (’90) serves as a Deputy Division Director in EPA’s Office of Site Remediation Enforcement where his government practice focuses on Superfund enforcement.

Clarke Thurmon (’10) is an Assistant Regional Counsel in Region 10. Clarke enforces the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. Additionally, he provides counsel on both the Public Water Supply and Underground Injection Control parts of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Prior to arriving in USEPA Region 10, and directly out of law school, Clarke worked at USEPA Headquarters in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance in the Water Enforcement Division for nearly six years where his docket focused on national enforcement and policy matters relating to the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

Jeff Speir (’15) is an Attorney-Adviser in the Water Enforcement Division within EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Jeff’s work focuses on enforcement of the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, with particular regard to discharges of dredge or fill material and underground injection control.

Josh Allen (’10) is a Special Agent with EPA. Special Agents are federal law enforcement officers who investigate criminal violations of environmental statutes and crimes under United States Code Title 18.

Desean Garnett (’14) is an Attorney-Advisor and represents EPA in civil cases against individuals, corporations, and governmental entities to enforce federal environmental law, primarily the Clean Water Act. Desean works closely with EPA inspectors, scientists, and engineers to develop each case.

Andrew Cherry (’86) is an attorney in the Water Enforcement Division - Office of Civil Enforcement - at U.S. EPA Headquarters in Washington, DC, and he has been with EPA since 1987.  Andrew currently serves as the lead attorney for matters involving section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), issues involving the geographic scope of the CWA, and has negotiated civil judicial consent decrees to address 404 violations, municipal sewer overflows, and POTW compliance under the CWA.  Before coming to OCE, Andrew worked in the Federal Facilities Enforcement Office for a number of years where he served as lead counsel on administrative enforcement actions against Federal agencies involving air, water and waste requirements.  Andrew has presented oral argument before the EPA Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) on sovereign immunity issues under the lead-based paint provisions of TSCA Title IV, and presented oral argument before the EPA Chief Administrative Law Judge and the EAB regarding the applicability of Clean Air Act statutory penalty factors to Federal agencies. 

Andrew has also worked in a variety of other offices while at EPA including the Office of Toxic Substances, where he developed TSCA chemical information regulations, the Office of Drinking Water, where he developed regulations for the underground injection control program, the Toxics Litigation Division, where he litigated administrative enforcement actions under TSCA, FIFRA and EPCRA, and the Office of Compliance, where he developed compliance strategies to assist municipalities and commercial service sectors.

Ivan Lieben (’98) went to work with the EPA directly from law school, and finds the work fulfilling and meaningful.  Ivan currently works as the manager of the General Law and Cross-Cutting Issues Section in the Office of Regional Counsel at EPA Region 9 in San Francisco.  In his current role he manages a group of 6 attorneys who provide counseling to the Region on Endangered Species Act, National Historic Preservation Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Indian law, Freedom of Information Act, grants and other cross cutting issues, along with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) programs.  Under SDWA, he works with program clients to oversee the management of the drinking water programs by the states as well as directly implements and enforces drinking water requirements in Indian Country.  Before becoming a manager, Ivan enforced Clean Air Act requirements against large stationary sources, such as smelters, cement plants and power plants, including serving as a Special Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice.  He started his EPA career at Region 5 in Chicago before transferring to Region 9.

John Krallman (’11) works for the Air & Radiation Law Office (ARLO) in US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel (OGC), working predominantly on title V and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting issues, and advising on some of the current administration’s more significant policy changes. He is also the OGC point of contact for infrastructure, FAST-41, and EO 13807 permitting for the Cross Cutting Issue Law Office (CCILO) and relays issues to the appropriate law office (or may take the lead on handling them for ARLO as appropriate).

Derek Mills (’14) began working for EPA in 2015 as a General Attorney in the Region 8 Office of Regional Counsel (Denver, Colorado). In January of 2016, he moved to Washington D.C. to work at EPA’s headquarters, where he works in EPA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC). His title is Attorney-Adviser, and he’s a member of OGC’s Air & Radiation Law Office. In that role, Derek provides legal counsel to EPA’s Office of Air & Radiation. He’s also a counseling attorney for EPA clients on the Clean Air Act. He assists with advising on Agency rulemakings and guidance, as well as defending EPA’s actions in court when the Agency is sued, among other issues. “I am currently on detail (temporary re-assignment) to the OGC Immediate Office as a Special Assistant. In that role, I support the General Counsel and other senior leaders within OGC. For me, EPA’s OGC is the ideal place to practice environmental law. OGC is full of wonderful people that are the premier experts in their fields. I’ve already learned so much, and look forward to continuing to grow at EPA.”

 Al Larsen (’77) is Counsel to the Inspector General at the Environmental Protection Agency. IGs are generally described as the “watchdogs” for their agencies.  “At EPA, I am General Counsel to the IG, leading our lawyer group, as well as the head of the Congressional and Public Affairs group for the IG.  We receive constant requests from Congress to investigate matters within EPA, usually high profile matters that have been reported in the media.  We field “Hotline” complaints from citizens, whistleblowers within the agency, public interest groups and other sources. Among my accomplishments in my 6 years here has been presenting a Report of Investigation on the head of the Chemical Safety Board directly to President Obama, resulting in the removal of the agency head. Another was working with DoJ and Congress to reveal that an EPA employee had hoodwinked other senior EPA leaders into believing his story that he was not coming to work at EPA because he was covertly working for the CIA. Our work resulted in his criminal conviction with three years of prison time, as well as a number of statutory reforms.  

Recently, former Administrator Scott Pruitt was engaged in conduct that resulted in our having over a dozen investigations or other reviews going on regarding him and the demands he put on other EPA staff.  As the circle was tightening, he resigned.  I was simultaneously working with Members of Congress and staff, reporters who were all over Pruitt’s actions, outraged members of the public, the DoJ and FBI, and agency whistleblowers.  Exciting and sobering to be aware of the stakes, and the importance of my role.”

Henry Darwin (’96)  is Acting Deputy Administrator and Chief of Operations for EPA.   In his capacity as EPA’s Chief of Operations, Henry Darwin is the key advisor to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler on day-to-day operations and the leader of the agency’s transformation to an organization of continuous improvement. In July 2018, Acting Administrator Wheeler delegated the responsibilities of the EPA Deputy Administrator to Darwin.

By deploying the EPA Lean Management System (ELMS) to reduce waste and maximize value- added work, Darwin is creating more effective ways to better serve EPA’s customers while increasing the capacity of EPA employees to do more environmental good. This includes strengthening partnerships with the states in streamlining and modernizing environmental protection. Darwin has committed to deploying ELMS in at least 80 percent of EPA by September 30, 2020.

 Zach Pilchen (’13) is an attorney with the EPA Office of General Counsel in the Air & Radiation Office. As a lawyer in EPA’s Office of General Counsel, Zach works with agency scientists, economists, and policymakers to develop a wide variety of rulemakings—primarily under the Clean Air Act (CAA).  When challenged in court, Zach works with DOJ attorneys to defend the legality of the agency’s action.  His time at EPA has allowed him to work on diverse CAA issues, including area designations for the National Ambient Air Quality Standards; interstate air pollution; operating permits; federal oversight of state implementation plans; and several climate-related issues, including the Clean Power Plan.  In addition to his CAA practice, Zach coordinates all litigation defending the EPA against constitutional claims brought under the 5th Amendment’s Takings Clause.  As part of his work at EPA, Zach is currently completing a 1-year fellowship with the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works.