Matthew Z. Leopold was appointed by President Trump on September 1, 2017 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as EPA’s General Counsel on December 14, 2017. He comes to the Agency from private practice in Tallahassee, Florida at the law firm of Carlton Fields. He previously served as the General Counsel of the Florida Department of Environment Protection (DEP) and as an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Environment and Natural Resources Division. During his years of federal and state government service, and in private practice, he handled a broad range of environment and natural resource law issues and worked on complex environmental cases. He has advised two Florida Governors, the White House, and multiple state and federal agencies on environmental matters.
While with the Florida DEP, he acted as the primary attorney to the Department Secretary and advised the Office of Governor Rick Scott on regulatory requirements and state policy for air, water, waste, and public lands. He assisted in filing and litigating Florida v. Georgia, an original action in the U.S. Supreme Court to address consumptive uses of water in the 20,000 square mile Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin. He also argued in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the long-running Everglades case brought by the United States against the State of Florida. Mr. Leopold led enforcement actions related to oil and gas development in Southwest Florida, to address the first hydraulically-fractured oil and gas well in that region and worked on the siting of a nuclear reactor in South Florida. In 2015, he was appointed to the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission for the Northern District of Florida by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson.
At DOJ, he worked on enforcement and defensive litigation, client counseling, and regulatory and policy initiatives, such as the National Oceans Policy and the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. He was a member of the BP oil spill civil enforcement trial team formed to address the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and handled cases related to the Border Fence Land Acquisition Project. He twice received the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Excellence for his work in those two matters.
Mr. Leopold worked in the Washington office of Governor Jeb Bush as a federal policy advisor on environmental matters, representing DEP and Florida’s five Water Management Districts on issues they faced in Congress and with federal agencies. He represented Florida’s interests to Congress during passage of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which led to a legislative ban on new oil and gas leasing in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.
Mr. Leopold hails from the Tampa area and is a graduate of the University of Florida and the Florida State University College of Law. He and his wife Kim have four children and enjoy spending their time doing family activities.