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Press Release

Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden Announces Appointment of Thomas A. Mariani Jr. to Serve as Chief of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Enforcement Section

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, head of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, announced the appointment of Thomas A. Mariani Jr. to serve as Chief of the division’s Environmental Enforcement Section, effective immediately.  Mr. Mariani fills the vacancy left with the departure of W. Benjamin Fisherow in April, who retired as section chief after more than 30 years of public service. 

The Environmental Enforcement Section is responsible for the civil enforcement of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws that control pollution, protect public health and the environment and seek recovery of natural resource damages for the American people.  As chief, Mr. Mariani will lead approximately 200 public servants who comprise the enforcement section.  The section handles a wide range of civil enforcement work, from air, water and land pollution cases to the collection of environmental debts such as cleanup costs.  Prior to serving as Chief, Mr. Mariani spent over five years supervising the pursuit of the United States’ civil environmental claims against BP and others, stemming from the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon, oil-spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. That matter culminated in the October 2015 announcement of a $20.8 billion settlement with BP, the largest settlement with a single entity in Justice Department history.  

“Tom Mariani is not only a determined professional, but also a seasoned environmental lawyer and a true leader who has earned the honor of becoming enforcement chief, a position I once occupied,” said Assistant Attorney General Cruden.   “As chief, Tom will be responsible for enforcement of the laws enacted by Congress that protect and preserve the clean air, water and land upon which our nation’s health, fortune and future depend.  Tom’s tireless efforts leading the Deepwater Horizon litigation team helped the nation achieve justice and recoup losses after an unprecedented environmental disaster.  The results of his and many others’ efforts will continue to help speed the Gulf’s recovery in our lifetimes and profoundly benefit generations of Americans to come.” 

Prior to his selection as chief, Mr. Mariani served as a Deputy Chief of the section and, before that, as an Assistant Chief for one of the section’s litigating groups.  He joined the Department of Justice in 1986 through its Honors Program.  He has worked on a wide variety of cases, including, for example, the Clean Air Act coal-fired power plants initiative, the Clean Water Act initiative to address aging sewer infrastructure in cities across the United States, multi-media cases in the steel industry and many Superfund matters.

In addition to his environmental enforcement work, Mr. Mariani has served in assignments at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.   He earned his J.D. from the Law School at Columbia University in the city of New York and his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York.

About the Environmental Enforcement Section

The section is one of the largest litigating sections in the Justice Department and includes about one-third of the Environment 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, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Superfund law (CERCLA).  The section carries out this work on behalf of and in collaboration with many federal agencies, including EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Coast Guard. 

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 (e.g., petroleum refineries, or glass or cement manufacturers), to obtain broad compliance with the nation’s 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.

Updated April 5, 2024

Press Release Number: 16-945