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Patricia J. Beneke


Former Regional Director and Representative, United Nations Environment Programme, Adjunct Professor of Law

B.A., Iowa State; J.D., Harvard

Patricia J. Beneke most recently served as the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Director for North America, with responsibility for interfacing with the U.S. and...

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Patricia J. Beneke most recently served as the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Director for North America, with responsibility for interfacing with the U.S. and Canadian Governments and for raising awareness regarding UNEP's policies and programs in North America. Prior to taking this position, she served as a Democratic Senior Counsel for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, where she specialized in a broad range of issues, including energy development on public lands, water resources, mining, oil and gas development, and national energy policy. She worked on legislation at the Committee for over twenty years, playing a role in the development and passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the Energy Policy Act of 1995, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. From 1993 to 1995, Professor Beneke served in the Clinton Administration as the Associate Solicitor for Energy and Resources at the Department of the Interior, providing legal representation for several bureaus within the Department. Professor Beneke was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science in 1995, and served in that capacity until 2000. As Assistant Secretary, she chaired the multi-agency South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, was the Federal Co-Chair of the California-San Francisco Bay Delta Ecosystem Restoration program, and led complex negotiations resulting in a cooperative agreement for endangered species restoration on the Platte River. In addition, she was responsible for programs of the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey and was heavily involved in initiatives to provide quality science for natural resource decision-making. Early in her career, Professor Beneke was an attorney at the Department of Agriculture working on commodity and farm conservation programs. She also worked as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she handled environmental litigation, specializing in matters involving the National Environmental Policy Act. Professor Beneke has taught natural resources law and policy as a visiting lecturer of law at Harvard Law School and adjunct faculty at Columbia University Law School and the University of Virginia School of Law. She has also worked in private practice. She holds a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School and a B.A. degree from Iowa State University.

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