Jennifer Neumann, Section Chief
The Appellate Section’s work involves cases arising under the more than 200 statutes for which the Division has litigation responsibility. Section attorneys brief and argue appeals in all thirteen federal circuit courts of appeals around the country, as well as in State courts of appeals and supreme courts. The Section handles appeals in all cases tried in the lower courts by any of the sections within the Division; it also oversees or handles directly appeals in cases within the Division’s jurisdiction that were tried in the lower courts by U.S. Attorney Offices. The Section’s responsibility also includes petitions for review filed directly in the courts of appeals in environmental or natural resource cases involving the Department of Energy, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Surface Transportation Board. The Section works closely with Justice’s Office of the Solicitor General, making recommendations whether to appeal adverse district court decisions or to seek Supreme Court review of adverse appellate decisions. The Section writes draft briefs for the Solicitor General in Division cases before the Supreme Court.
Assistant Attorney General (ENRD)
Todd Sunhwae Kim is the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. He began his career in the Division, joining its Appellate Section through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. As a career public servant for over seven years, he represented the interests of the United States in courts around the country, working on cases involving Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act enforcement, Superfund site cleanup, Native American land rights, the establishment of national monuments, environmental crimes, and more.
Kim was then appointed the first Solicitor General for the District of Columbia, a role he held for over eleven years. As Solicitor General, he was the chief appellate lawyer representing the District and managed a large staff in cases of national and local importance. After three years as a partner at Reed Smith LLP, he returned to public service upon appointment as the Deputy General Counsel for Litigation, Regulation, and Enforcement at the U.S. Department of Energy.
He is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School, where he was an Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review. He clerked for the Honorable Judith Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He was born and raised in New Jersey.
Chief of Staff to the Assistant Attorney General (ENRD)
Laura A. Thoms
Laura is on detail from the Environmental Enforcement Section, where she has spent the last sixteen years enforcing civil environmental laws on behalf of the United States. Her work for EES included negotiating and litigating complex matters under CERCLA, the Clean Water Act, the Oil Pollution Act, and the Clean Air Act. Laura also served as the EES representative to Division committees on Clean Water Act and CERCLA issues, as well as participating in other initiatives to support the Division and its people.
Laura began her legal career as a litigation associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. She is a graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School, and clerked for Judge Marilyn L. Huff of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Laura is from Dickerson, Maryland.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General (AP, EDS)
Matt Littleton was appointed as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in 2022. He began his legal career as an Honors Attorney in the Division's Appellate Section, where for six years he briefed and argued appeals spanning the breadth of the Division's work.
Matt then spent four years as counsel and, later, partner at a small private firm – now known as Donahue & Goldberg, LLP – where he represented environmental nonprofits, municipalities, and an environmental response trust in various suits filed under the Clean Air Act, CERCLA, the Natural Gas Act, the Fifth Amendment's Just Compensation Clause, and more.
Matt is a graduate of Princeton University, Harvard Law School, and Harvard Kennedy School. He clerked for the Honorable William C. Bryson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Seth M. Barsky
Seth was appointed as a career Deputy Assistant Attorney General in 2022. He joined ENRD in 1990 through the Attorney General’s Honors Program (after two summer internships with ECS and EDS). For his first nine years, Seth served as a trial attorney and senior attorney in EDS, where he litigated cases under the major federal pollution control statutes. In 1999, he moved to WMRS to become an Assistant Section Chief, and then served as the Section Chief from 2011 to 2022. In WMRS, Seth supervised all civil litigation arising under the federal wildlife and marine resources statutes, including the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Since 2016, he also supervised judicial civil enforcement of the federal animal welfare statutes. During his tenure, he has managed some of the most high-profile and complex litigation concerning the intersection of species protection and critical programs. Seth also has served as an adjunct law professor teaching courses in Natural Resources Law and Administrative Law at the University of Michigan Law School; Washington College of Law, American University; and Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America. Seth received his law and undergraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Lisa L. Russell
Lisa was appointed as a career Deputy Assistant Attorney General in 2022. She had been the Chief of the Natural Resources Section since 2011, and from 2021-2022 served as an Acting DAAG. As Chief of NRS, Lisa supervised the full range of natural resources litigation, Fifth Amendment takings claims, Tribal trust litigation, and water rights and allocations cases. In her former ENRD positions, Lisa was an Assistant Chief and Senior Attorney in the Wildlife and Marine Resources Section, Senior Counselor to the AAG, and Trial Attorney in EDS. Lisa has served on numerous Division committees and workgroups, including the Honor Grad Hiring Committee, ENRD Management Workgroup, and ENRD Climate Workgroup.
From 2009 to 2011, Lisa worked at the Department of the Interior as Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife, where she advised the Office of the Secretary, Solicitor, and Interior Bureau Directors on legal issues arising under federal wildlife laws and statutes and regulations governing the management of the National Park System and public lands.
Lisa received a B.S. in Chemistry from Denison University and a J.D. from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri. She spent her 2L summer in D.C. as an EES law clerk and, after graduating, clerked for the Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones of the Sixth Circuit. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Gina was appointed as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in 2022. She previously worked in ENRD before moving over the Office of Tribal Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice. Ms. Allery started out in the Indian Resources Section of ENRD, where she litigated cases on behalf of Tribes, including land-into-trust, reservation boundary, treaty rights, and gaming cases. Ms. Allery spent her last three years at ENRD as Senior Counsel for Indian Affairs to the Assistant Attorney General for ENRD, where she provided legal advice to the Assistant Attorney General on variety of Indian law issues. At the Office of Tribal Justice Ms. Allery served as Deputy Director where she worked on a variety of legal and policy issues impacting Indian tribes. From 2018-2021 Ms. Allery was on detail to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota prosecuting violent crimes in Indian country. Prior to working at the Department of Justice, Ms. Allery worked in private practice at Dorsey & Whitney. Ms. Allery holds a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and earned her doctor of jurisprudence at Columbia University.
Environmental Crimes Section
Deborah L. Harris, Section Chief
The Environmental Crimes Section is responsible for prosecuting individuals and corporations that have violated laws designed to protect the environment. It is at the forefront in changing corporate and public awareness to recognize that environmental violations are serious infractions that transgress basic interests and values. The Section works closely with criminal investigators for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in dealing with violations of such statutes as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, more commonly known as Superfund), the Lacey Act, and the Endangered Species, among other statutes.
Environmental Defense Section
Letitia J. Grishaw, Section Chief
The Environmental Defense Section represents the United States in complex civil litigation arising under a broad range of environmental statutes. EDS is the only section in ENRD that routinely handles cases in both federal circuit and district courts. EDS defends rules issued by EPA and other agencies under the pollution control laws, brings enforcement actions against those who destroy wetlands in violation of the Clean Water Act, and defends the United States against challenges to its cleanup and compliance actions at Superfund sites, federally-owned facilities and private sites.
Examples of the Section’s work include: defending EPA’s regulations governing permitting of discharges from factory farms, its ambitious “Clean Air Interstate Rule” aimed at attaining air quality standards for ozone and fine particulate matter in the eastern half of the country, the Agency’s efforts to revamp the Clean Air Act new source review program, and its safety standards for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada; defending challenges to the United States’ implementation of international treaties involving the elimination of chemical weapons; and prosecuting civil enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act that have protected hundreds of thousands of wetland acres and recovered millions of dollars in penalties.
Environmental Enforcement Section
Thomas A. Mariani, Section Chief
The Environmental Enforcement Section is one of the largest litigating sections in the Department and includes nearly one-half of the Division’s lawyers. The Section is responsible for bringing civil judicial actions under most federal laws enacted to protect public health and the environment from the adverse effects of pollution, such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Oil Pollution Act, RCRA and the Superfund law (CERCLA). The breadth of the Section’s practice is extensive and challenging. It includes cases of national scope, such as cases against multiple members of an identified industry, to obtain broad compliance with the environmental laws. Through its enforcement of the Superfund law, the Section seeks to compel responsible parties either to clean up hazardous waste sites or to reimburse the United States for the cost of cleanup, thereby ensuring that they, and not the public, bear the burden of paying for cleanup. The Superfund law is also a basis of the Section’s actions to recover damages for injury to natural resources that are under the trusteeship of federal agencies.
Andrew T. Collier, Executive Officer
The Executive Office is the operational management and administrative support section for ENRD. It provides financial management, human resources, information technology, procurement, facilities, security, litigation support, and other important services to the Division’s workforce. The Executive Office takes advantage of cutting-edge technology to provide sophisticated automation facilities to ENRD employees. By utilizing new technologies and innovative business processes — and by in-sourcing services traditionally provided by contractors and equipping employees to better serve themselves — the Executive Office is able to achieve significant cost savings for the American public on an annual basis.
Indian Resources Section
S. Craig Alexander, Section Chief
The Indian Resources Section represents the United States in its trust capacity for Indian Tribes and their members. These suits include establishing water rights, establishing and protecting hunting and fishing rights, collecting damages for trespass on Indian lands, and establishing reservation boundaries and rights to land. The Indian Resources Section also devotes approximately half of its efforts toward defending federal statutes, programs, and decisions intended to benefit Indians and Tribes. The litigation is of vital interest to the Indians and helps to fulfill an important responsibility of the federal government.
Land Acquisition Section
Andrew M. Goldfrank, Section Chief
The Land Acquisition Section is responsible for acquiring land through condemnation proceedings, for use by the Federal Government for purposes ranging from establishing public parks to creating missile sites. The Land Acquisition Section is also responsible for reviewing and approving title to lands acquired by direct purchase for the same purposes. The legal and factual issues involved are often complex and can include the power of the United States to condemn under specific acts of Congress, ascertainment of the market value of property, applicability of zoning regulations, and problems related to subdivisions, capitalization of income, and the admissibility of evidence.
Law and Policy Section
Justin Smith, Section Chief
The Law and Policy Section staff advises and assists the Assistant Attorney General on environmental legal and policy questions, particularly those that affect multiple sections in the Division. Working with the Office of Legislative Affairs, it coordinates the Division’s response to legislative proposals and Congressional requests, prepares for appearances of Division witnesses before Congressional committees, and drafts legislative proposals in connection with the Division’s work. Other duties include responding to congressional and citizen correspondence and FOIA requests, as well as serving as the Division’s ethics officer and counselor, alternative dispute resolution counselor, and liaison with State and local governments. Attorneys in the Section coordinate the Division’s amicus practice, handling many of these cases directly or together with Appellate, undertake other special litigation projects, and coordinate the Division’s involvement in international legal matters.
Natural Resources Section
James Gette, Section Chief
The Natural Resources Section is responsible for a diverse and extensive docket of primarily defensive litigation involving more than eighty statutes, treaties and the U.S. Constitution. The Section’s responsibilities include cases in virtually every U.S. district court of the Nation, its territories and possessions, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and State courts. The subject matter involves federal land, resource and ecosystem management decisions challenged under a wide variety of federal environmental statutes and affecting more than a half-billion acres of lands managed by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture (totaling nearly one-quarter of the entire land mass of the United States) and an additional 300 million acres of subsurface mineral interests; vital national security programs involving military preparedness and border protection, nuclear materials management, and weapons system research; billions of dollars in constitutional claims of Fifth Amendment takings covering a broad spectrum of Federal activities affecting private property; challenges brought by individual Native Americans and Indian Tribes relating to the United States’ trust responsibility; a panoply of cultural resource matters including cases related to historic buildings, repatriation of ancient human remains and salvage of shipwrecks; preserving federal water rights and prosecuting water rights adjudications; ensuring proper mineral royalty payments to the Treasury; and litigation involving offshore boundary disputes, interstate water compacts and other issues in Supreme Court original actions in coordination with the Office of the Solicitor General. The Section’s clients include virtually every major Federal executive branch agency.
Office of Environmental Justice
Cynthia M. Ferguson, Director
The Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) engages all Justice Department bureaus, components, and offices in the collective pursuit of environmental justice. The mission of OEJ is to protect overburdened and underserved communities from the harm caused by environmental crimes, pollution, and climate change. The Office: serves as the central hub to implement the Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy; builds partnerships with community advocates; and promotes fair and equal treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in environmental decision-making process. OEJ was established within the Environment and Natural Resources Division on May 5, 2022.
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Kate E. Konschnik
Kate Konschnik is the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Kate spent the first seven years of her legal career at ENRD. She joined the Division as an Honors Attorney in the Environmental Enforcement Section. Kate litigated civil enforcement cases on behalf of EPA Regions 4 (Southeast) and 9 (Pacific Southwest), with a focus on the Clean Air Act as a member of the New Source Review Enforcement Initiative team.
Kate subsequently served as Chief Environmental Counsel to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and managed his Oversight Subcommittee on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Kate then left government service to become the first Executive Director of what is now the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program. Most recently, Kate was Climate and Energy Director at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. Kate has also taught environmental and energy law courses at Harvard Law School and Duke Law School. For three months in 2019-2020, Kate conducted research at the International Energy Agency in Paris, France.
Kate is a graduate of Tufts University and University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Wildlife and Marine Resources Section
S. Jay Govindan, Section Chief
WMRS litigates complex civil cases in federal courts across the country brought under the federal wildlife and marine resource statutes, including the Endangered Species Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The Section also has responsibility for civil enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) and for civil forfeitures under the Animal Fighting Venture Prohibition Act (AFVPA). WMRS primarily handles civil defensive litigation involving challenges to rulemaking and other decisions by federal agencies charged with implementing the various wildlife statutes and to decisions or actions of federal agencies taken to comply with such statutes. Civil litigation, particularly under the Endangered Species Act, often pits the needs of protected species against pressures for development by both the Federal Government and private enterprise.
The Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice handles environmental and natural resources litigation on behalf of the United States. The work of the Division arises under approximately 150 federal civil and criminal statutes, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, CERCLA (Superfund), Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, and Tucker Act.
The Division’s mission is to enforce the nation’s environmental laws to ensure clean air, water and land for all Americans; prosecute criminal cases under federal pollution and wildlife laws; defend environmental and natural resources laws and federal agency programs and actions; litigate cases under statutes providing for the management of public lands and natural and cultural resources; litigate cases to protect the rights of Indians under treaties, acts of Congress, and Executive Orders, and defend the United States in claims brought by Indians; prosecute eminent domain proceedings to acquire land on behalf of the United States for authorized public purposes; conduct the Division’s appellate litigation in federal circuit courts of appeals and state appellate tribunals, and assist the Office of the Solicitor General with appeals to the United States Supreme Court; and advise the Attorney General, Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the White House on matters of environmental and natural resources law.