In contrast to appointments of individuals with close ties to industry to top EPA positions, which Democrats and environmental groups have fiercely opposed, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s announcement that Alexandra Dapolito Dunn will serve as administrator of the Agency’s Region 1 (New England) office was welcomed by each of the six New England states and several environmental groups.
Dunn has a stellar environmental résumé. Currently, she is executive director and general counsel of the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), a nonpartisan association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders that is arguably the nation’s most influential voice protecting and advancing the role of the states in environmental protection.
Before joining ECOS in 2014, Dunn served as executive director and general counsel for the Association of Clean Water Administrators. In October 2017, she was elected to the Board of Regents of the American College of Environmental Lawyers, and she serves on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Environmental Law Institute. She has chaired the American Bar Association (ABA) section of Environment, Energy, and Resources and its World Justice Task Force and served on the ABA Presidential Task Force on Sustainable Development. She also taught environmental justice and human rights and the environment as dean of Environmental Law Programs at Pace University.
Dunn’s publishing background includes writings on environmental justice, the ethics of community advocacy, urban sustainability, and cooperative federalism, which defines a role for strong state involvement in federal decisions affecting states and is a priority of Pruitt.
Dunn also has an industry backing, serving as counsel for the American Chemistry Council from 1996 to 2001. She has been counsel to parties, intervenors, and amicus in more than 25 reported cases.
EPA’s announcement of Dunn’s appointment included commendations from environmental officials in each of the six New England states.
“[Alexandra Dunn] is an excellent choice and will bring a constructive and informed approach to New England, a place where there is strong federal-state partnership and a collaborative approach to our important environmental protection work with USEPA,” said Janet Coit, director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
“She is a consensus builder who is well respected by many in the environmental community thanks to her extensive background and knowledge of environmental law and policy,” said Robert J. Klee, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. “It is imperative that the federal government and states work together to address our most pressing environmental issues—and I have full confidence that Alex will continue to build upon decades of positive interactions between EPA Region 1 and our New England States.”
The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), a liberal environmental group operating mainly in New England, also welcomed the appointment.
“It is a refreshing change of pace to see a Trump Administration appointee who gives New England climate and public health advocates reason to cheer,” said CLF President Bradley Campbell. “Alexandra Dapolito Dunn is a superb choice to lead EPA’s programs in our region. Her leadership of the ECOS restored its role as a constructive, nonpartisan voice addressing the most significant environmental issues facing our states and our nation.”