Faegre Drinker announced today that Doug Benevento has joined the firm as counsel in the environment and energy practice team in Denver. Benevento is the former Acting Deputy Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Benevento leverages 25 years of experience in government and the private sector addressing energy and environmental policy and legal issues to support clients. He has served as the deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Region 8 Administrator, and as executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Benevento has also served in senior management for a large gas and electric utility, practiced law and was recognized by Chambers and Associates as one of the top environmental lawyers in Colorado.
“We are eager to be welcoming one of the nation's top environmental lawyers to our practice. Doug will provide immediate benefit to our clients as they look to the horizon for the future of environmental regulation,” environment and energy practice team co-leaders Bonnie Barnett and Max Kelln said in a joint statement. “Doug was one of the highest-ranking leaders at the EPA and has had a front row seat for the country’s most pressing environmental issues, particularly those at the intersection of the environment and energy, including climate change and ESG. His experience will help clients navigate these issues during the current transition and beyond.”
As second-in-command at the Environmental Protection Agency, Benevento oversaw day-to-day operation of the agency and was involved in key policy and regulatory matters. He also managed the 10 EPA regions and was the chair-designee of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. During his tenure, the Council allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for restoration along the Gulf Coast.
Benevento was deputy at EPA during the onset of COVID-19 and led the agency’s response to the pandemic, working closely with career staff and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to develop guidelines for operating businesses. In addition, Benevento worked with EPA leadership to expedite the approval of disinfectants effective against the novel coronavirus on surfaces.
Through his work at EPA, Benevento is credited by communities for expediting cleanup of hazardous waste sites in many locations, including Montana and the Navajo Nation. He worked closely with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality to address air quality issues in Utah along the Wasatch front. He also worked with states to develop a Memorandum of Understanding that provided states with greater authority to implement state self-audit laws.
During Benevento’s tenure in both state and federal government, he was regularly recognized for achieving results that positively impacted communities. In 2002, as head of the CDPHE, he led the state’s effort to bring the Denver Metropolitan Area into compliance with all health-based federal air quality standards. He also worked on the development of the State of Colorado’s first greening government executive order.
Benevento’s work with the CDPHE included efforts to increase awareness of the importance of immunizing children, as well as collaboration with state legislature to increase funding for the state’s immunization efforts. He also worked with the state legislature to increase funding for the Ryan White Program and other programs addressing disparate health impacts in Colorado communities.
Outside of his practice, Benevento dedicates his time to various professional associations, having been a member of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory’s Utility Regulation Advisory Group, past vice-chairman of Edison Electric Institute’s External Affairs Committee, past elected director and VP of Douglas County Board of Education, past member of the National Advisory Environmental Health Sciences Council, past chair of the Governor’s Emergency Expert Epidemiology Response Committee and past executive committee member of the Environmental Council of States.
Benevento earned his bachelor’s degree from University of Colorado, his master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and his Juris Doctor from University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
Faegre Drinker’s national environment and energy group serves clients coast to coast, partnering to develop solutions to their most complicated environmental and energy challenges. They deliver transactional, regulatory and litigation support to a wide range of industries, including the pharmaceutical, food and agriculture, chemical, manufacturing and energy industries.