Brenda Mallory

Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality

Fast Facts

Environmental Lawyer 


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Brenda Mallory is another official who’s boomeranged back from the Obama administration. But she’s not just a partisan actor. She arrived at the Environmental Protection Agency at the tail end of the Clinton administration but stayed on at EPA and CEQ during George W. Bush’s tenure and into Obama’s, when she finished as CEQ’s general counsel. And while she drew nine GOP votes against her confirmation in committee, 13 past Republican CEQ chairs and EPA appointees sent a letter to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee supporting her. 

Her recent approval by the full Senate makes her the first Black woman to head the panel, which coordinates federal environmental policy and advises the president on environmental issues.

After President Trump’s victory, Mallory transitioned to the private sector, working as an attorney and regulatory advocate for the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Conservation Litigation Project.

Among her immediate goals: rolling back more than 100 environmental regulations promulgated by the Trump administration and bringing an environmental-justice perspective to the White House. As she said in her confirmation hearing, “I will ensure that the voices of the poor and the powerless—from the most rural parts of America to our biggest cities—are heard as we tackle the environmental and public-health crises the nation faces.”

Approach and Motivations

Excerpted from Brenda‘s Vignette profile

Bureaucratic expertise coupled with working-class background informs effort to reestablish baseline environmental policy and push for climate policy empathetic to the working class

  • Nearly two decades of federal service inform Mallory’s advocacy for a sustained push to reinstate environmental policy that was rolled back under the Trump administration and repair foundational policies implemented by the Nixon administration
  • Upbringing in a blue-collar, working-class community in Connecticut influences her environmental advocacy as she often considers the effects of climate regulation on labor and domestic industry
  • Personal experience with urban pollution drives emphasis on health-related environmental reforms; Mallory advocates for community voices in the construction of infrastructure that carries environmental and health concerns, like oil pipelines
  • Exalts environmental-advocacy groups and their importance in pushing both Democratic and Republican administrations to address climate change; encourages collaboration with academics and advocates in the development of legal scholarship on public lands and environmental issues

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