About EPA

Judges Serving on EPA's Environmental Appeals Board

Honorable Aaron P. Avila

Judge Aaron P. Avila was appointed an Environmental Appeals Judge in 2016. Judge Avila has substantial litigation and management experience in matters arising under federal pollution control and natural resource statutes. Prior to joining the Board, Judge Avila served first as a staff attorney and then as an Assistant Section Chief in the Appellate Section, Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice. During his tenure in the Appellate Section, Judge Avila litigated and supervised civil and criminal appellate matters involving major federal environmental and pollution control statutes before the courts of appeals and the Supreme Court on behalf of the United States and its agencies (primarily EPA, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense). Judge Avila presented oral argument in more than 30 appeals. Prior to joining the Justice Department, Judge Avila was an associate at Morrison & Foerster LLP in San Francisco, California and before that he served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Robert D. Sack of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Judge Avila’s work has garnered him numerous awards and recognitions. For example, he received the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Excellence for his work on the civil litigation arising out of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as well as his efforts in defending EPA’s Clean Water Rule. EPA’s Office of Water also recognized Judge Avila’s contributions to a rulemaking with the Silver Medal for Superior Service Award.

Judge Avila earned his Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, from New York University School of Law, and his Bachelor of Arts and Science degree (Political Science and Civil Engineering) from Stanford University.

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Honorable Mary Kay Lynch

Judge Mary Kay Lynch was appointed an Environmental Appeals Judge in 2015. Judge Lynch has extensive litigation and management experience in both the private and public sector. She has served in a number of senior legal and management positions within the EPA, most recently as the Associate General Counsel for Solid Waste and Emergency Response leading the Agency’s participation in Supreme Court, federal Appellate Court and federal rule making practice in these subject areas. Prior to that she served as Regional Counsel for EPA Region 4 in Atlanta, Georgia. There she led a large interdisciplinary staff including attorneys and engineers to provide legal counsel for civil and criminal enforcement cases, defensive litigation, counseling issues, and general law matters. Earlier in her EPA career she served in EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, first in the Federal Facilities Office as Director of the Site Remediation and Enforcement Staff and later as Director of OECA's Policy Office. Judge Lynch has served as the Vice Chair of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Trustee Council where she has advised on complex and unprecedented issues. Prior to joining EPA, she was engaged in private law practice.

Judge Lynch's work has been recognized with numerous awards including the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, the EPA Excellence in Management Award and EPA Gold and Silver Medals. She earned a Juris Doctor degree, from the University of Georgia School of Law, where she served as the Executive Editor of the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law. She earned a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Boston College and was part of the Scholars of the College program.

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Honorable Mary Beth Ward

Judge Mary Beth Ward was appointed an Environmental Appeals Judge in 2015. Judge Ward brings to the Board almost three decades of litigation and management experience at the United States Justice and Commerce Departments in matters arising under federal pollution control and natural resource laws. Prior to joining the Board, Judge Ward served as Deputy General Counsel for the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In that capacity, she led a staff of attorneys, paralegals and support personnel providing legal advice across a wide array of NOAA programs that manage the nation’s commercial and recreational fisheries and protect at-risk marine species and their habitat. That work included the timely resolution of significant legal issues relevant to NOAA’s mission in over 200 rulemaking actions annually, as well as providing critical litigation support to the Justice Department in a docket that, on average, included approximately 100 pending federal court cases. During her tenure at NOAA, Judge Ward was recognized twice for her work with the Commerce Department Gold Medal, the Department’s highest award.

Prior to joining NOAA in 2004, Judge Ward served as trial attorney, Assistant Chief, and ultimately as Deputy Chief in the Justice Department’s Environmental Defense Section, where she litigated on behalf of EPA and other federal agencies in both federal district and appellate courts. That litigation included defending rules issued and other actions taken by EPA under federal pollution control laws, representing the United States against claims of responsibility for costs to cleanup polluted sites, defending against claims challenging federal agency compliance with federal and state pollution control laws, and prosecuting violations of the Clean Water Act. Before joining the Justice Department in 1987, Judge Ward was an associate with the Environmental Department of Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen in Philadelphia, PA.

Judge Ward earned her Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, and Bachelor of Science Degree in Mineral Economics with Highest Honors from the Pennsylvania State University.

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Honorable Kathie A. Stein

Judge Kathie A. Stein was appointed an Environmental Appeals Judge in 1996. Judge Stein has over 35 years of legal experience in both the private and public sectors. Prior to her appointment to the Board, Judge Stein held several leadership positions at EPA, including Director of EPA’s Air Enforcement Division within EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA). She also headed OECA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Enforcement Division and served as the Acting Regional Counsel for EPA's Region III (Mid-Atlantic Region). In these capacities, she supervised teams of lawyers as well as technical and administrative personnel.

Before joining EPA in 1990, Judge Stein served as Senior Counsel with the Environmental Enforcement Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division; Senior Attorney and Director, Environmental Information Exchange, at the Environmental Defense Fund; Assistant Attorney General for the Maryland Attorney General’s Office (handling environmental cases); and engaged in private law practice with two private law firms in San Francisco, California where she specialized in commercial and complex civil litigation, first at Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe, and subsequently at Feldman, Waldman & Kline. Judge Stein has been a frequent speaker at national conferences on environmental law, and leads the Board’s work on international judicial capacity building. She also oversaw the development of the Board’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. In addition, during 1995-1996, while on leave from EPA, she worked as a consultant to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Judge Stein earned her Juris Doctor degree, magna cum laude, in 1979 from the Georgetown University Law Center, where she served as an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. She received her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in 1974 from Oberlin College, where she majored in government.

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