October 5, 2020
Matthew Z. Leopold, former general counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has joined Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s nationally recognized environmental practice as a partner.
Based in Washington, D.C., Leopold will focus his practice on assisting clients with high stakes environmental litigation, emerging environmental policy and regulations, navigating federal and state permitting, and chemical licensing.
“Matt brings to the firm more than a decade of experience working at the highest levels of government, where he helped leadership at EPA, the Justice Department and the State of Florida navigate some of the country’s most pressing environmental regulatory and litigation priorities,” said Wally Martinez, managing partner of Hunton Andrews Kurth. “He is a welcome addition whose knowledge and insight will benefit the firm and our clients.”
As EPA General Counsel from January 2018 to September 2020, Leopold oversaw one of the largest environmental legal departments in the country. He was chief legal counselor to the EPA Administrator, advising on all major agency rulemaking and actions under all major federal environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Superfund Law (CERCLA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and others.
During an active period of rulemaking, Leopold worked on the development of numerous regulations, including the Affordable Clean Energy Rule (regulating greenhouse gases from power plants), the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (the new definition of the Waters of the United States), the New Source Performance Standards for the Oil and Natural Gas Industry, the Safe Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles Rule (regulating emissions from passenger cars and light duty trucks), and the first chemical risk evaluations under the new TSCA law. He was responsible for overseeing all litigation against EPA and setting the EPA’s litigation and appellate positions along with the U.S. Department of Justice. He also led a delegation to Nanjing, China to meet with the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment to share insights on contaminated site cleanup.
“Matt played a key advisory role in the development and defense of virtually every significant regulation proposed by EPA over the past several years and was involved in overseeing some of the agency’s most significant environmental litigation, including two cases in the Supreme Court,” said Eric Murdock, head of Hunton Andrews Kurth’s administrative law team. “His thorough understanding of the agency’s perspective, his hands-on experience as a litigator at DOJ, and his broad background in enforcement and compliance matters make him an outstanding addition to the firm’s environmental practice.”
About Matt Leopold
Prior to his December 2017 confirmation by the U.S. Senate as EPA General Counsel, Leopold’s career included positions in private practice and in government service at the federal and state levels. From 2015 to 2017, Leopold was of counsel with a national law firm. While in private practice, Leopold represented the State of Florida in Florida v. Georgia, a rare original action tried before the U.S. Supreme Court seeking an equitable apportionment of the waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin.
As general counsel for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from 2013 to 2015, Leopold was responsible for managing an office of 40 lawyers on all environmental and most natural resource litigation in the state. He was responsible for developing the state’s legal strategy and arguing in the long-running Everglades cases and handling the siting of a nuclear power plant and transmission lines in South Florida. He also led the state’s litigation team in the first enforcement action in Florida dealing with fracking.
From 2007 to 2013, Leopold was an attorney in the U.S. DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, where he litigated and advised on regulatory and policy matters. He also worked on endangered species, National Environmental Policy Act, Superfund, and eminent domain cases, and acted as lead attorney for offshore drilling, oil spill, and oceans policy.
Leopold’s career began in 2005 with the State of Florida as a policy advisor in Washington, D.C., where he managed the state’s environmental, energy, and agricultural policy at the federal level for Governor Jeb Bush.
Leopold earned his undergraduate degree from University of Florida and his law degree from the Florida State University College of Law.
Hunton Andrews Kurth’s global environmental practice of over 50 attorneys has helped clients in energy, oil and natural gas, automobile, chemical, manufacturing, commercial real estate, mining and mineral extractive industries navigate regulatory, permitting, compliance and enforcement matters across air, water, waste and natural resource law for more than 45 years. The practice and many of its lawyers are ranked Band 1 nationally by Chambers USA and Chambers Global, as well as by many other well-respected ranking publications.